Insomnia is not just a night that you can’t get to sleep. It’s a period of time that you can’t get to sleep. Like days. Or weeks. Or years. You still feel tired, but you just can’t sleep. When insomnia goes on long enough, it’s very difficult to tell the difference between sleeping and waking life. Everything occurs like a dream and sinks into the experience of memory as reality. So you could be at work and feel like you are dreaming. Or you could be asleep and feel like the dream is actually happening. Then remembering the dream as if it actually happened.
“You are the treacle in my pie.”
My first real bout with insomnia came when I was about 10 years old. At least the first one I can remember. The first few days I remember staring at the door as usual. But sleep never came. Failed starts at sleep built over the first week until I was crying in frustration. By the end of the second week, I was punching myself in the head.
“You are the splinter in my eye.”
I didn’t tell anyone about this because it doesn’t occur to a 10 year old to talk about problems with sleep. The most frustrating part of my insomnia is that I become uncontrollably sleepy right at dawn. Unfortunately, this is when the world insists on getting up. So right at the point where I am able to sleep, my opportunity for sleep is over. I have to get up with everyone else and flounder through my day. The edges of some other dream world barely visible in the corner of my eye all day long.
“You make the ice melt. The butter run.”
I had to conceive a mythology around my daily visions and glimpses of an alternate reality. I am convinced that it is always there. That we see it all right in front of us. But we train ourselves not to. It’s very much like the Emperor’s New Clothes. Much of life is an ethereal world with simple answers to plaguing problems easily within our grasp and largely and purposefully ignored and avoided.
“You are the ink stain. You are the one.”
And the biggest problem and the most enchanting part of living on the edge of this dreamworld is that time doesn’t function normally. My linear grasp on my own history is loose. I experience things out of order. And in order. I don’t know whether I have a premonition that it will happen or that it already happened or that it is happening right now. At the same time it’s a game I play with myself. I shouldn’t ever be taken too seriously where sleep is concerned. Sometimes I am unresponsive and it looks like I am asleep. But I am fully in my environment. Enjoying being awake has opened me up to the possibility that I am actually asleep which makes me feel more rested.
“I am the local. I am express.”
So in a dream and a reality occurring over the period of about 25 years, I met a girl. I had a conversation on the phone with her after our first date. We lit a candle together. Crazy saint candles from Fiesta. Mine was St. Michael. I have always felt reassured by the Archangel Michael with his glittering sword and his foot on the head of a demon. There is always a crossover as the sleep slips away. Who knows what is real.
“I am a tourist in a summer dress.”
But in this conversation she said that it was time for sleep. I told her that I couldn’t sleep. She said that she loved sleep. Like it was big fat pink baby. “Sleep is like candy.” And suddenly I was tired like I hadn’t ever been tired before. We ended our conversation. I slept like Adam and Eve experiencing sin for the first time. Tiredness washed over me like warm water. My dream world disappeared in a foggy misshapen cloud of real sleep. This sleep was like a new dimension between two worlds that I had made my home.
“I am the night nurse. I am the most.”
And now I always have periods of time that are like power sleep zones. In the early evening, I can lay down any time and have 45 minutes of the most refreshing and perfect sleep. It’s like a new ripple in an ever unfolding intersection of alternate realities. Since time is almost irrelevant, I remembered this mechanism into every other period of sleeplessness and the additional sleep corrected sequences and improved my handling of difficult situations. This resulted in a more well-adjusted now.
“I am the visitor, you are the host.”
The more well-adjusted me married that girl. And before that reality, I could never sleep with another person in the same building being awake. I would listen to them breathe on the other side of the house. I would listen to upstairs neighbors talking softly in their living rooms. Now as long as she is the one awake, most of the time I can still sleep. But I can also remember her in the room if she isn’t there. And this changes everything. Like Michael standing watch at the door of time.
“My lips are lipped.”
Dean and Britta are the candy of sleep. Easily digested and hard to harm. They have this way of slipping inside of me easily like they were there all along. Like a Burt Bachrach tune. How do you know the first time you heard it? At the first listening of a Dean and Britta song, I am humming along like I’ve been listening to it for decades. And I have a real affection that I have developed for them. Their intimacy so candid and thorough. Like I’ve known them for a long time. And maybe I have. Slipping between here and now. Between then and there.
“My lid is flipped.”
Their music is like the feeling right before you fall asleep. The place that I have spent so much of my time. On a wheel finding different perspectives on consciousness and motivation. Deprivation and fulfillment. Observing all of the metaphors in the in between. The places where it appears nothing is happening until you stare long enough to find something. There is always something new in their music. And it’s laid back enough that its message is flexible. Easily available to whatever dimension I happen to be roaming in any given time. I am here. I am listening to a Dean and Britta song.
“Sleep together in the Milky Way.”
There is some interesting candor in the slow march of time. And the lack of linearity of sleeplessness scoffs at revelation. Progress is always related to time. If it isn’t, then it can’t be measured. So perhaps if time isn’t a factor, all time is awash with light and dark tones and hints of subtlety and marked resilience. And sometimes the senseless march of words ends up like the last five sentences. Running concepts together with no regard for their meaning.
“Sleep forever and a day.”
The only real comfort is that sleep is like candy. And if I had never found sleep, where would I be. Stuck between two worlds. Clutching my belongings to my chest like a homeless man. Stooping under the burden of stupefying exhaustion. I am asleep and awake at the same time. I have 15 more life times. I am somewhere on my way and right next to you. I feel the warm water rise from my feet to my eyelids. I am a color tone in a changing tide.
“Lovely jewels in joy designed.”
Sleep is candy.
“La la la la…”