It’s pitch dark out, but a noise somewhere outside jolts me from my happy place. I wake looking for the morning. I check my clock; it’s only three. But, the thought of the next day has already made me anxious. I drink some water, use the restroom, snack on some fruit. I lay back down with new determination. My mind is empty, yet sleep evades me. I try to pray for people. I get through two people before my own frustration at sleeplessness takes over. I flip on my lamp, I read a few pages from a novel about vampires and high school crushes. I see a shadow in the corner of my window. I change books, this one is about a man who lives vicariously through watching movies. Sleep still evades me. I check the clock, hoping the reality of the time will make me sleepy; it’s now four ‘o clock.
I’m not alone in this sleepless plight. In high school, I’d often meet my mother in the kitchen in the middle of the night. Either she’d be sleeping on the couch and would hear me sneak into the kitchen for some cold water, or she’d be in the kitchen, hunched over the newspaper, spooning Life cereal into her mouth with a glazed look in her eyes. Her eyes would brighten though when she saw she had company. We’d often sit for awhile, each with our bowl of cereal.
“Can’t sleep?” She’d ask.
“No! I think I’m anxious about tomorrow.”
“Don’t worry—you’ll do fine.”
“And you?” I ask.
“I’m too hot!” she’d respond. “And I don’t want to wake your father.”
Sometimes, we’d turn on the TV and watch some low budget sitcom with no-name actors, or we’d put on a movie. But usually, she’d go back to the couch, and me to my room. Both of us somewhat comforted by the shared experience.
I also remember my grandpa’s bought with sleeplessness. When I was in elementary school, I spent a week one summer at my grandparent’s house. I had to sleep in the guest room with the double bed because the other guest room with the single bed was Grandpa’s spill over room when he couldn’t sleep. He also suffered from Restless Leg Syndrome. I remember waking up to him pounding his legs on the floor to ward off the feeling of ants crawling on his legs. He’d often sleep so poorly, that he would need a nap by 10:00 the following morning.