cant sleep. must write.
I used to be able to sleep for forever. Back in highschool, when I lived in my attic bedroom that was so much like a tree fort, I could put away hours and hours in the constant hazy permadark. Sleep was my escape from so many things. I slept away my problems, not wanting to face reality and look around myself. It was so cathartic without even being anything. I let time suck me down into a black hole. I didn't want to have to see the degenerating relationship between my parents. I didn't want to have to deal with any of my then beginning steady gender issues, or to think about any of my feelings of inferiority towards other girls. About why I wasn't good enough to date, or why adults seemed to always be angry with me. I didn't want to feel small or stupid or looked down on, so I dreamed it all away.
The habit of putting my problems away continued with me into college. Freshman year, Allie and I mutually slept all our shit away, intermittently waking to work, smoke weed, drink beer, watch MacGyver, and fall back into bed again for the following 13 blackout hours of silence. It was strange and reassuring to see somebody else deal with their psychological bullshit in a similar manner, and I think I loved the fact that our bedroom was even more of a wreck than our brains were. It seemed not to matter. And then last year, without any preamble, I stopped being able to sleep.
It was around the same time of the year, a crispy September or October. I remember so specifically because I was reading Catcher in the Rye and it was making me feel like I was going insane. I had gone to Shrine Mont, a mountain retreat hotel my church annually goes to. I had gone every year with my family when I was a kid, and decided to return again for the first time after a great length. Everything was the same. The worn but clean green wood plank walkways, warped from being painted a thousand times. The comfortable but lonely chairs placed in the middle of big empty spaces, under solitary trees, meant for reflection and meditation. Even the same football was wedged into the beams of the roof of the pavilion that had been there when I had been to summer camp years before. It was eerie as much it was comforting. It remained a functioning relic, and I spent the weekend begging the mountain to heal me and my problems while I played basketball by myself in the powerful sunshine of the early morning. I didn't sleep through a single night there completely, without waking up in a cold sweat at least once. Even when I drank an entire bottle of wine on the steps right before bed, I couldn't sleep.
I remember when I first met Palmer it was my birthday a week later, and he was standing in front of my house with a sheepish expression and a stack of comic books as a present. I liked him so much, it was a surprise even to me. I think it must have something to do with his constant, infuriating smile. His shit eating grin. One of his front teeth pokes slightly out from all the times he's fucked up his face, and it gives him this whimsical, mischievous quality that is impossible to look away from. I was so happy to be able to lean on someone for a change, when I had spent so much of my time before alone and closed away, that his permanent 'fuck it all
' attitude quickly became a staple to my mental health. I could sleep again. Babies wished they could sleep like I could when he was with me, even though he was always complaining about his feet sticking off the end of the bed and getting cold, or rolling around in the middle of the night like a horse, and twitching as he dreamed. It didn't matter that I knew his smiling was like a manhole cover above a deep hole. I was just so happy to be able to sleep again, to feel relaxed, and to begin to start feeling like myself for the first time in what had felt like forever. But like everything does, it ended. After a lengthy stroll into Palmer's much more fucked up and convoluted problems, we arrived at an impasse. And suddenly we were broken up and we both
I had been doing alright on my own, more or less, until then. Agitated, becoming reclusive, sure, but I hadn't really wanted anything. Before, I knew what I didn't want, and I had thought about that. After I broke up with Palmer, my thoughts inverted, and became focused on things I wanted to take in. In some ways this is exquisitely worse, because it is a permanent suffering of the 'grass is always greener
' syndrome. I had failed at my job. I had failed at my relationship. I had failed at school. I had failed at having a successful connection with my father. I had failed at maintaining so many things. I wanted stability, a dog, a boyfriend, a house, to put down roots, to do what I love as a job, to make money and stop being poor, to love my family and be of some benefit to my neighborhood and my city. But I couldn't even figure out how to pay my bills on time, and suddenly all the troubles I'd been siphoning off and putting away since high school had become a huge and terrible storm cloud hanging over my head and preparing to rip open, dumping a whole life's worth of pain and torture straight down on my fat, stupid head. All because I couldn't sleep.
Like most mornings recently, I woke up before the sun. This is what I normally see:
I've taken to sleeping with the lamp on my desk on. Probably some fucked up psychological aversion to the dark I loved so much in high school, I can't explain it. But this morning I woke up to the light having burnt out, and all I could think was that my Spirited Away poster had morphed from refracted light from the window into the horrible face of a monster.
Sen's red outfit had become the horrible bulbous nose of some translucent, pasty faced ghost, huge and immediate, unavoidable as breathing air and staring straight at me. I feel like I must be going crazy, even as I feel myself adopting Palmer's technique of putting a cheerful face on, despite whatever may be happening beneath the surface. That face, that is the monster face of a tremendous pressure bearing down on my entire ridiculous life. I can't get over it. I can't get over it so much that I had to write about it. All of these things are whooshing around in my brain and I can't get them to stop. I'm waking myself up.
Good morning, creative writing. Heal me! And for the love of God, won't you let me go back to sleep?