Sleep doesn’t come naturally to many of my family members. I hear (and see by those 3:00a.m. posts) through the Facevine that my nephew is awake at owl hours (darn, that’s good!) and my oldest brother and I have discovered, during our middle-aged re-acquaintance with each other (hey! I have two brothers — who knew?) that we’re roaming our dark houses in parallel universes. This unfortunate state of affairs may be a hand-off from Alex, our dear patriarch, now sleeping in eternity with our equally dear Mom. Alex pretty much went to bed at 7:00pm and got up at 4:00am. He would then go to the cemetery in total darkness to visit my Mom, but that’s its own story.
I am either blessed or cursed, depending on the situation, with the ability to hear weeds growing, ink drying, and dust rolling into bunnies in the dining room. I hear everything. Thus, every noise wakes me. And with advancing electronic technology, every new gadget comes with its own glowie. The bedroom is briefly dark at lights out, then illuminated by the red phone charger lights and the alarm clock, and the luminous green numbers of the cable box. (Yes, there’s a TV in the bedroom. Sometimes I just need a baby sitter, okay?)
Mike, on the other hand, somehow manages to combine a physical workout with sleeping. He is a perpetual motion machine, both waking and sleeping. It’s rare that some part of him is not in motion on his side of the bed. There are times when he is so active that it just doesn’t seem possible he can be asleep. When we were first married he would do mid-air front to back flips in his sleep. He’s moved on to running in place, or doing Rockette kicks, or massaging a kinked-up calf muscle. There’s no need to put a quarter in the slot to get a vibrating bed in our house. Mike’s doing it free of charge.
But he’s also not a man with a lot of excess flesh. Many times I’ve dodged midnight elbows to the nose and rock-hard feet to my vulnerable shins. He doesn’t always end up back where he started, which means there is sometimes significant, though unconscious, encroachment into my sleeping space. I find myself teetering at the edge of the bed, clutching a precious share of cover, trying to fit Gumby-like around the sharp angles of my blissfully ignorant husband. For the most part, I’ve made peace with both my sleeplessness (I figure I’ll fall asleep when I’m tired enough, like I did while standing on the second floor balcony at work; fortunately there was a railing) and Mike’s nocturnal thrashings (We’ve been married almost 11 years and I have yet to suffer a serious injury. I wonder if there’s an award for that?).
There are times, though, when I simply vacate the premises and sleep around. I’m working my way through the house, Goldilocks-like, searching for a suitable resting place. The living room was my first choice. My easy chair with ottoman seemed a possibility but the ottoman kept sliding away, leaving my butt dangling between it and the chair. That’s a difficult position to sustain even being awake. Our couch is leather, which seems to be some sort of guy must-have. I just can’t get comfortable with it; I feel as if I’m laying on a slightly inflated dead animal. And enormous, noisy nocturnal insects are ramming the glass doors and windows like living ammunition, which is just creepy.
The final choice is the spare bedroom. I see you’re wondering why I didn’t just go there first. Well, Mike uses the spare bed as a staging area for traveling — suitcase, a week’s worth of clothes, GPS, literature — all the accoutrements of a road warrior’s life, covering the bed. So far I haven’t just swept my arm over the bed and dumped everything onto the floor. I know I’ll fall over it in the morning.
Well, I guess there is one more choice. There’s always the back of the Bus.