As I sat there in the dark, feeling my way through the fringe at the end of my bedspread – fingers counting each thread one by one, I could feel the anxiety building up in the discomfort of my current sleeping situation. It was warm enough for me to take off the wool sweater I had accidentally fallen asleep in, but cool enough for me to regret doing so shortly after. The winter had carried into spring, and the days of concrete skies had flowed into the dark and damp nights.
Weather has such an effect on people. I get joy out of the silliness of people saying they prefer rain, which feels like a person stating unwittingly, “I love living without a vital vitamin for a healthy body and life.” Like all self-proclaimed pluviophile’s are somehow equipped to go on without the natural necessities that the sun offers. I longed for the days we spent in California. Though it wasn’t just for the sunshine, which I always ended up dreading by late summer. It was for the freedom my very shortly lived youth had in the Sunshine State, and the feeling of the summer nights that never seems to go away, even as I age. Half naked on beaches, smoking cigarettes, and drinking shitty booze without the aftermath of death in the form of a hang over for days there after.
Did you know the last time I let go like that? the last time I tried acting as though I was the same wild and free person I vaguely remember from pictures? I actually had to go to the hospital to get rehydrated. I had IV’s in my arm, and a high strength drug running through one of them to clear up the migraine which was triggered from the alcohol, and I felt absolutely ridiculous. The doctor looked at me like I was ridiculous.
Growing older comes with an unforeseen accountability towards living maturely in ways you wouldn’t otherwise consider – Like a body betraying its owner, more than a whiskey or two will land me in a dire need for outside reinforcements in order to just recover from a night of laughs.
I sat in silence while laying on my bed, thinking of all the things that I had been before, wondering how I ended up falling into such an obscurity. I needed to hush myself, and the stories I tell myself of value and grandeur of what I once was – I needed to try allow my brain to do the real talking. I notice when you allow your brain to do the talking, the letting go of thoughts and direction, you tend to learn more about whats really troubling you. I knew what I thought was keeping me up, but never actually felt complete in the thought.
I turned on my right side, trying to silence my ego out of the sleeplessness, my toddler framing my body like a perfect little spoon – phrases worked through my mind like, “You know your worth,” on repeat. Just beyond my toddler, my husband laid, fast asleep. He didn’t like to be touched while sleeping, and our toddler seemingly knowing this by pure insight or possibly habit, always pulled towards me at night, although she preferred her dad during the day. This sleeping arrangement would leave her and I curling up in a tiny corner to give him more space, pulled tightly together in unison as if to provide peace of mind for everyone involved. He seemed peaceful, and unaffected. He always seemed that way.
Unable to calm my mind anymore, I looked at his face, trusting and comfortable, and thought back to our lives together. I met him in private school when I was ten. He was chubby, awkward but not from the small town we found ourselves in. To just to know a fellow city dweller felt like home. He, despite his childhood shortcomings, always found a way with girls throughout grade school – He was my first boyfriend and he strung me along like a rag doll until I was 14 and my parents got divorced, to which I moved away. That should seem irrelevant now with years of marriage behind us, but the truth of the matter is, the stringing along never really stopped. Not for long anyway.
“Trust your intuition,” I felt my mind repeat. I went back to counting threads and trying to let go of the stories which had brought us all to this place, all sleeping in this little bed and in the room across the hall. The toddler cradling my body wasn’t the only child that once slept between me and another person – There were three – and each time they lay with me, though the older’s who are almost as big as me now – I felt the same existential guilt. All daughters. All women. All feeling. All insightful. All nurturing. All mothering.
There is quite a burden as a seemingly self-aware woman to raise self-aware women. Women who felt safe enough to be themselves unabashedly. Half the time I felt like I was failing at this, and I considered that while now staring back at my sleeping husband. The nagging feeling returned every time I looked back at his sleeping face; Trusting and secure, not a worry to keep him up.
I had ran out of threads to count, just as my youth seemingly ran out before its time, just as motherhood pushed me to question the purpose of the experience, just as I lay here – curious as to where the next chapter will lead us, or if theres any more chapters left after this, jealous and confused by the ability of my partner to not feel what I feel.
I began to dose off, I could feel myself reassuring in inner self talk, “…But, its good for the kids.”
photo by Bill Owens