I would like for you to spend the night with me…

 

Go to sleep. Go to sleep. Go to sleep.

That’s not working. I roll onto my other side and try again. But I hear voices. Not the frightening kind; Familiar ones. My father waking me in the mornings that summer I was eleven and stayed with him. “The sun’s up. You should be too.” (Sun? Barely. It was dawn.) I hear the voices of others I love and they sound comforting but they don’t put me to sleep. I hear the familiar question of a friend “Don’t you EVER sleep?” and I can’t.

I have to sleep. It’s two. If I don’t sleep now I’ll be tired tomorrow. Or today. Whichever. Sometimes they’re like one long continuous day with little catnaps in the dark. I flip onto my back. Try my old trick of relaxing my body one part at a time. When I was fourteen or so I read about etheric projection. A way to be in two places at once? Who wouldn’t want that? The author, clearly a man with too much time on his hands, outlined techniques for separating the etheric from the physical body. I don’t remember where I thought I wanted to go with my etheric self but I do remember lying flat on my back, perfectly still, and “sensing” each part of my body starting with my toes and working my way up. Toes. I have toes. I sense my toes. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten pink little piggies. Toes, toes, toes. No, I never made it the whole way. I was usually asleep by the time I got to my knees. Probably a good thing because I was a little afraid of the possibility of death by etheric/physical separation (though it would make for an interesting obituary) and a little afraid my mother would catch me having out-of-body experiences. But instead of falling asleep cataloguing my parts, now I’m remembering my teenage curiosity and susceptibility to everything I read.

Try again. I often sing my children to sleep. As babies they each had a favorite lullaby that mesmerized them. The littlest one’s is Hush Little Baby. I sing a feminist version where it’s the mama that does all the buying. Because I’m the mama. I sing it to myself now in my head. What I hear instead is her softly snoring in the other room. She has a cold. I should check on her. I hear a car go by and I remember the first night I spent in this house. I couldn’t sleep (imagine that) for the sound of the traffic on the road. Not traffic like on a major highway. Just a tractor trailer every half hour or so. And not the road we live on, but the main road nearby. The place we’d left was that quiet. I try to think of another lullaby and hear instead another noise. The refrigerator? Why is it so loud? Is that the ice-maker? Did I leave the ceiling fan on? It’s a weird mechanical whirring…

Sleep. Sleep. Sleep. Shelby Lynne is singing in my head:

 

Sleep. Come on in.
I would like for you to spend the night with me.
Sleep. Where you been?
I have surely missed you since you’ve been gone…

Sleep. Say my prayers.
Asking for a place that looks like all the nighttime fantasies.
Sleep. Are you here?
Are you real and am I snuggling down tonight?

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Ghosts Appear and Fade Away

Sometimes I sleep. Okay, it’s three in the morning right now but sometimes I sleep. I’m not a complete insomniac.

Who am I kidding? Yes I am. I have slept like the rest of the world at times. You know, the full eight hours in the dark. But since I can’t remember a night like that in two years I may as well give up. I am an insomniac. Incapable of proper night-time activities. Namely sleep.

I used to make excuses. I took great offense to being called an insomniac. The word has an ugly ring to it. People take medicine to cure it. I was NOT an insomniac. I was simply living in the wrong time zone. ( In Cork children are going off to school right now and tourists are getting ready to kiss the Blarney Stone. I have no idea why, but they are.) I’ve also claimed to be an unrecognized genius since loads of famous geniuses are rumored to have slept little. No real evidence to support either the rumors or my possession of a superior intellect (it’s okay – you can laugh now) so I had to stop telling that one. My favorite reason for not sleeping was that I was exploring polyphasic sleep. Till I read this: An example of polyphasic sleep is found in patients with Irregular Sleep-Wake Pattern, which may be caused by dementia.

Well. That’s not very nice. I DO NOT have an irregular sleep-wake pattern. In fact, I have a fairly regular sleep-wake pattern. I sleep four hours. Last night I went to bed at ten and woke at two. Very predictable. Very regular. Very not demented. People worry themselves over my lack of sleep anyway. I rarely admit to being tired during the day. Invariably someone will suggest I go to bed at night. As if that would help. I get advice on teas to drink, pills to take, livestock to count. Take a relaxing bath. Drink warm wine. Lie on your stomach. I get emails in the middle of the night saying “Go back to bed!”

They are missing the point. I’m not tired.

Here’s what I tell people now. “So my circadian rhythm doesn’t look like yours. Get over it.” No one likes to look prejudiced. Or have to ask what a circadian rhythm is.

Anyway. (It’s early. Imagine a clever segue here.) I got the sweetest sleep deprived message ever to grace my inbox on Sunday. An apology for having sent me a song about myself. And it is about me. I’m convinced. It’s an old song – 1983! But I wasn’t sleeping much in 1983 either. I remember thinking “How did they know? How could anyone know so much about me? We must be kindred spirits. This song is so obviously about me. This must mean something. I have to meet this Australian man with such beautiful words to describe my angst, my self… I’ll write to him!” And so I did. And so did thousands upon thousands of other girls, insomniacs or not, I am sure. Girls are silly that way. He never wrote back.

I still love the song. I should have just posted the lyrics the other day instead of my long, rambling nonsense about thinking too much. It captures the thoughts of the thirteen year old me roaming through silent, shadowy rooms as well as the thirty-seven year old me sitting here pecking away at keys in the dark. Thank you, Kim.