I’ve had another birthday.
Wednesday of last week. It was quite lovely, beginning with touching wishes sent via Twitter, stretching all the way into a Thursday night dinner with dear friends during which I was presented with a week-long stay in a Manhattan apartment, travel and expenses included.
I’ve been awake with little surcease ever since.
Last night (Saturday into Sunday) was particularly painful. Being as I earn what little living I make in the service industry of house/pet sitting, I am frequently sleeping in a bed not my own. For longer-term jobs, I bring along my personal pillows, but this being a one-night – 36 hour – stand during which I did not intend to leave the house once I’d arrived, I descended on the mountaintop home in “nobody’s going to see me” sweats, lugging my basic needs: the books I’m currently reading, back-ups, my lap-top and notebooks/journals required for writing projects in process. I also brought a tooth-brush and, stuffed into the gym bag I always have in my car, an extra pair of jeans, underwear, socks and a Henley.
I was already feeling slightly doped-up when I arrived. I’d not slept well after the dinner with friends Thursday night, tossing and turning, more awake than asleep, semi-feverish, not asleep enough to rest and not awake enough to reach out and drink from the glass of water on my bedside table in order to soothe the dry-mouth, uh-oh-a-cold is coming, sinus-drainage, throat soreness. I spent much of Friday exhausted, trying to write, medicating myself and drinking enough water to flush away whatever it was that was trying to grab hold of me – or, so I hoped. Alas, after a long day of having accomplished only a few hundred words, I forced myself to the gym where I felt so out-of-sorts and not myself I could barely be bothered to notice the naked and near naked beautiful young men who are the highlight of any gym visit.
It was then I knew for certain I was unwell.
Friday night’s attempt at slumber was as tortured as Thursday’s; a semi-fever state during which I could neither fall into restful sleep nor manage to wake enough to stop suffering the delirious chimera that if I didn’t right that second plan my New York sojourn, I’d be unable to get tickets to see The King and I and Hamilton and my life would be ruined.
So, by the time I arrived here at my house/pet-sitting job yesterday morning my fatigue level was approaching defcon one: total collapse imminent. I needed to keep it together for the three dogs, one cat, and two turtles depending on me. I needed my wits about me as the newest of the canines now required “click training”, a combination of mechanized castanet usage and liver treat bribery whenever she managed to urinate or defecate outside rather than in the living room. I made myself a pot of very strong coffee and brewed tea bags for equally lethal iced tea and kept myself functional through the day. I read and wrote, but as I was nearly prostrate from sleeplessness, my ability to focus was limited. Often I’d catch myself gazing or dozing off, caught up in some other-nether-world, details of which would snap away as my head jerked back into the moment.
Somehow, being unable to successfully read or write, it seemed logical to me to edit my world. That’s what I would do. I took to this laptop on which I am now typing this blog entry and went through all of my bookmarks and file folders on a tear of deletion. I was relentless. It was a massacre. After which purging, I went into G-mail and AOL and Twitter accounts and erased, wiped-out, trashed, expunged, and obliterated contacts and old messages and history. Then, once I’d done all the trashing, I went into the virtual-trash bins and re-erased, permanently wiping away, so I could not change my mind and retrieve these things later.
It was a long day. By ten p.m. I took the canines (and clicker) outside for one last attempt at a go and then, up to the bed with the pillows and pets that were not mine.
The night was a misery of hallucinatory delusions, contortions and tossing of my body, sweaty spasms of restless indignation at yet another night of wakefulness, new aches in my lower back and right knee, and a furious impatience for the sun to rise. I wanted the dark to end. I believed everything would be better once it was a new day, morning. In equal measure, in my fever and fugue, I believed I could not get up until there was light outside. I had to wait for the dawn. It refused to come.
Then, I thought it had. I was outside, in the sunlight, with a woman who was a cross between the despicable, sociopathic dance teacher, Abby, from the reality-nightmare of Dance Moms, and my fourth grade teacher. I was saying, “I thought daylight would never come.” But she didn’t care what I had to say. She was busy wanting to say what she wanted to say, which was an attack. “I don’t understand you. You’ve quit smoking. You’ve quit drinking. You’ve started tracking your calories so you’ve quit eating freely. You’ve quit a million people. Now, you’ve quit more than half of what was on your computer. Why are you such a quitter?”
It was that line in that dream, then, finally, seven hours of torture later, at 5:17 a.m. that helped me shake off the phantasm of another horrifying night of non-sleep enough to realize I could just get up.
I could quit tossing and turning in the dark.
There are all kinds of awake. I’m not particularly enjoying this day. My stomach aches from lack of sleep. My throat still hurts. I’m hungry. Things are foggy and fugue-y. But, I’ve washed the towels I used and the sheets on which I barely slept. We’ve clicked and treated outside (although, the click-training hasn’t completely cured the indoor pee – so I’ve cleaned that up as well) and I’ve read the Sunday New York Times on-line. Finished reading one book and started another.
There are all kinds of awake. I’m not particularly enjoying this life. My psyche aches from lack of understanding. My heart still hurts. I’m lonely. Things are foggy and fugue-y. But, I’ve cleansed myself of the guilt I suffered for letting go of people whose agendas for me had to do with who they wanted me to be rather than who I was, those people who thought “compromise” meant I did whatever they wanted and didn’t complain while they explained to me why whatever I wanted was wrong. I’ve made a real effort to re-examine the way I live, the way I see myself, and I have given up much judgment – of others and myself (although, some days I still go crazy thinking I’m a fail and a D-list-er, but, I try to keep it quietly under control) and I never stop examining, looking, listening, letting go of what can’t be changed and allowing space for answers, for new sorts of Love and Light.
And, I’ve had another birthday.
I’m awake in different ways than I used to be. My quitting has had to do with recognizing and releasing those things that served no affirming purpose. And, even a fugue can have its plusses. Yesterday, while writing, a character spoke a line that made me say; “I wish I’d said that.” And I realized; “Holy crap! I just did.”
And, soon enough, I will sleep.
Love and Light and Happy Sunday, my dears.