Sunday, October 30, 2005


Sleep is a worn blanket. Wakefulness pokes through it like elbows and knees if I so much as roll over in bed.

5:44 am: the fat gurgle of steady rain running through the eaves, splashing on the roof and pavement.

It’s dark and quiet except for the rain and the hurry-up sound of wheels on wet pavement. I stand in the balcony doorway, cigarette in hand, wearing an old navy robe, oversize fuzzy slippers with gorilla faces at the toes, my hair in chewed-looking pigtails. I look out into the dark. Without my glasses, the streetlights glow like Van Gogh stars.

Back when I couldn’t get up without disturbing a concerned husband and having him follow me downstairs, rubbing sleep out of his eyes, I used to think about keeping any hours I wanted.
“Are you alright?”
“Yeah. I’m fine. Go back to bed.”
“Bad dream?”
“No. Just can’t sleep.”

A chronic insomniac for over ten years, I’ve found that since I’m free to go to bed anytime I please, I thrive on odd rhythms. Last year, I began to go to bed at 8:30 and 9:00 o’clock at night. I’d sleep through until 4:00 or 5:00. But if I missed that early start, if I stayed up until even 10:30, I could barely sleep at all. My body seemed to be working in sync with the light. On weekends, I stay up later, wake just as early and then catch up an hour or so in the afternoon – sleeping in shifts. If I didn’t work, I’d likely shift-sleep all the time.

Odd, the things you find out about yourself when you live alone, without that mirror of other, not shaping yourself around anyone else’s habits and routines. Being married to someone more introverted than I was, I balanced by becoming more extroverted. Since divorcing, my own introversion has taken on mildly autistic overtones and returned me to a state I remember from childhood.

I am six or seven, sketch pad balanced on my lap. I have been drawing with crayons for hours. My mother says, “Go outside and play. It’s a nice day.” I am reading and don’t hear my mother calling, “Turn the light out and go to sleep.” The dog and I are roaming an abandoned golf course, down in a ravine where apple and peach trees grow along the river. My childhood dreams are filled with those hills and skies, heavy with magic.

All this way. All this way to come back to where I started.