Like many people, the older I get, the more elusive that wonderful, refreshing, peaceful, sufficient night’s sleep has become. Sometimes I think it’s like chasing fireflies across a dark landscape. They’re flitting about and wink out just when you think you might catch one.
And then of course you’re sitting there panting like a fool, wide awake again.
So, sleep sometimes feels like a bit of a marathon for me. Aside from a family predilection for insomnia, a brain that operates on hyperdrive, and some chronic pain that flares up at the most inconvenient times, I spend a lot of time working on sleep. (I think there’s some irony here…but I’m too tired to figure it out.)
So, here’s a faithful recounting of a typical night. The dogs (Emmett and Sadie) and I wind down in front of a little TV…all good…except the main character did something really funny. I switch it off and head to the bedroom. The dogs huff and settle. I can’t forget the show – it has me reviewing and chuckling as I hunt around for the nightgown that is comfortable. Damn. My favorite is in the wash (there was a hot milk and honey spill at 2 a.m. – don’t ask). Second favorite will have to suffice.
The dogs’ eyes are closed. Their breathing even. Only slight tail thumps and ear twitches indicate they aren’t deeply asleep yet. I’m in bed, second favorite nightgown straightened and arranged to avoid uncomfortable wrinkles. Light turned out. I relax…
No, I don’t relax.
I lie there in the dark remembering that comedy sketch…do I do those dumb things? Mandatory run-through of every interaction with every person I’ve ever known….
And then the flush, the gasp of breath. Oh no. I did exactly that to that woman in a meeting about eight years ago. How could I be so insensitive? I check the clock – too late to call and apologize. I make a mental note to send a card. Maybe twelve minutes spent composing a thoughtful, graceful message until I remember I don’t know her last name or where she lives anyway….
Maybe if I read for awhile, that will calm me down. Except I finished the book last night. I could dive into a new one by the same author. Emmett opens one eye as I flip the light back on. I cruise the Kindle store for 23 minutes. No new book by this author…look at all the books other people have bought. Debate the risk. Buy one…then another just in case.
I open the first chapter. Are these people psycho? Why do I want to read about some nasty person being tormented? If it was a physical book I could have thrown it across the room. Damn technology anyway.
Second book seems not bad. I meander through the first four chapters. Definitely should put me to sleep…except now I’m hungry. How many hours since dinner? So I toss back the blankets (too hot anyway) and go into the kitchen to check out the fridge, dogs padding sleepily but hopefully along with me.
We decide on crackers and cheese. I’m too tired to sit up so I take the goodies back to bed with me. Emmett leaps up to lie beside me, soulful, starving eyes on the plate. Sadie sits at my side giving me the mind control stare…it always works.
The three of us munch and crunch until the crackers and cheese have disappeared, at least whatever didn’t crumble into the bed. I throw back the blankets (again), and try to sweep the detritus from the sheets. Emmett and Sadie have no interest in this and go back to sleep.
Their peaceful snores reverberate through the room.
I hate them.
Lights off. Staring at the ceiling…shadows moving like some kind of insects scurrying around. Lights on again. Empty ceiling…except all this up and down has started my back twinging. I toss back a couple of aspirin and get up to do some yoga stretches, guaranteed to relax the insomniac and relieve those aching muscles.
It would probably work, if Sadie and Emmett didn’t want to play too. Instantly on the alert for action, even in the middle of the night, they thrust their heads between my arms and jump up on me. They love new games.
I give up and get back to bed. They whuff a little and settle down again. I envy them. In the distance I hear some yips from coyotes and a hooting owl. I listen for awhile for any screams from their prey. Nothing.
I imagine the little animals curled up in their nests…warm…safe…
The sun is coming up, grey light tinging the room. I’ve had four and a half hours of sleep by the clock. Emmett paws me. He’s ready for breakfast. Sadie gives me the mind control stare again.
“Noooo…” I moan. Emmett paws again, frantic. Sadie moves her nose to an inch from mine.
I give up. The coffee hisses and drips while they go outside for the morning perimeter check plus taking care of business. I gulp hot coffee while they gulp their breakfasts.
And through it all, I fantasize about taking a long, long nap….
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