Saturday, May 22, 2010


* I wrote this one night while in Virginia, unable to sleep.  It must've been 2003.  This may very well be my first blog-worthy piece of writing, so I don't feel bad posting it so many years later.  As for tonight, it's been an awfully long and trying week, and I'm nowhere near where I was on this particular night.  Goodnight.*

I’ve forgotten how to sleep.  I lay awake, eyes held open by invisible fingers, figuring there must be some kind of technique we pick up as we go that I’ve somehow misplaced for the time being.  Insomnia.  Or worse yet, some innate knowledge, something I’ve just flat out lost for good.  When you actually think about it, how do we go to sleep?  How do we make that decision to lose consciousness, especially if we’re not passing out tired?  I’m befuddled.  And I’m tired.

I can hear the neighbors getting up to go pee in the middle of the night.  Slamming toilet lids.
I can hear the wind pushing the tree next to the end of the building, the limbs dragging monster claws across the roof just over my head. 
I can hear the tap, tap, tapping of my pet rats drinking from their water bottle in the other room.
I can hear the building and the foundation settling.  Random cracks.
I can hear the wind blowing the vent over the stove.  It’s loud and for every clank, my heart throps.
I can hear the trains as they approach, then rumble solidly by, shaking the bed.
I can hear the tub faucet drip, drip, dripping on the other side of the wall.
I can hear car breaks and sometimes the blow of a horn somewhere nearby.
I can hear something that sounds like a gunshot when I’m feeling paranoid, and a car backfire when I’m not.
And in all the in-between moments I can hear the heavy silence, absent of even a ceiling fan to give me some kind of rhythm to follow, blaring in my ears.

It doesn’t matter how long I lay in bed, eyes clamped shut against their own will.  Not if it’s like this.  Not if I’m just awake.  Last night I lay for five straight hours, didn’t even turn on the TV to occupy my buzzing mind.  That does help sometimes, though, giving my brain a rest.  It gets going and when insomnia hits, too, I go crazy because I just need a brain break.  I just need to stop thinking.  TV works well for that.  I’ve become accustomed to 2am Charles in Charge, and sometimes some old movie on TBS.  Something to stare at while my body figures out how to shut down for a few hours. 

But last night, nothing.  Just me, darkness, and all the noises that prick my sensitive ears all night long.  I never remember falling asleep if it actually happens before 6am, either.  I lay there for hours, trying concentrating on breathing, or fantasizing, something to occupy my mind in the kind of way that sometimes tricks it into slipping off to sleep.  I lay there, failing for hours, then suddenly, out of nowhere, for absolutely no reason, I just drop off.  I don’t even feel it coming like normal sleepers do.  That deepening heaviness that kind of tugs at the back of your brain until you start to float.  Nothing.  I’m annoyed one second, then it’s morning and I never once got to feel the sweet lull of drifting off.  It’s just cruel.    

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