For the past couple of years, I have not been able to sleep well. It’s not insomnia per se, but rather a merry-go-round of worries that begins to turn as soon as I close my eyes. I’m not sure what has occasioned this. Aging, perhaps, and the realization that the things I want most have not happened yet, and may never happen. Health issues, people issues, money issues, book issues, where-shall-I-live and what-am-I-doing-with-the-rest-of-my-life issues; all weighty stuff. Part of the problem is that, like most writers, I have a fairly fertile imagination. I think in images, with Technicolor, Cinerama and SurroundSound. I have a knack for details, so the disturbing footage parading through my head when I’m trying to sleep can be unnervingly graphic and keeps me up.
Back in the penultimate decade of the last millennium, when Jack Daniels Black was my best friend and I was working downtown, I had constant panic attacks and did not sleep—I sedated myself for several hours and woke with thunderous headaches and tears in my eyes.
In time straightened out and over many years got my act more or less together. It took a while to learn how to sleep without going numb first. I tried meditation and Melatonin. I refused prescription or over-the-counter meds, since both scared me. I stayed up very late, went for long nighttime walks, and gave up caffeine. It took a while but Morpheus graced me and for a few years I slept peacefully.
I no longer do; I’m not sure how to handle it. Now, I often work until the early hours, or once again take long walks in the middle of the night. I play Words With Friends. I rearrange my pantry, sweep my house, do laundry, and sometimes cook.
Last night there was a blackout. I was watching Amelie for the twenty-second time when the lights blinked once, twice, and then went out. The wind howled, and as I learned this morning, took down many branches and trees, leaving a swath of Northern Virginia without power. I tried to fall asleep but couldn’t. I actually felt the temperature in my house drop, hour by hour. I got up and wrote, illuminating the page with a flashlight. I listened to the creaking and groaning of the house. My stomach cramped, which it has been doing lately. I worried about a recurrence of cancer, then worried more, and still more. I wondered who might be up at this time, then decided not to engage anyone in lengthy messaging. Texting would leave my phone with an uncharged battery, and I might need it in an emergency.
The power returned around six this morning, by which time I had put on socks, sweatpants, and a couple of long-sleeve tee-shirts. It was 54º in my kitchen when I made coffee. I had handwritten an unreadable mess of a short story. The wind was still howling. In France, farmers say such a squall can blow the horns off bulls.
I need to calm down and watch Amelie again.