More often than not, I sleep poorly.
It’s been this way since I was tiny–my mother talks about post-partum exhaustion, so profound the weight of it made her nearly collapse. And me, awake, peering over my dad’s shoulder as he walked, rocked, quietly talked, did anything and everything to lull me into a nap.
“You were a creepy little baby,” she says. “You wouldn’t sleep, you just looked and looked. I think you were planning things. You were afraid to sleep in case you missed something.”
I remember years of lying awake, inventing games and tricks, and when these ran out and I was still awake, growing sweaty and cross, watching the red numbers flick away hours on the digital clock…night oozing closer to morning, when I would have to eat my cereal, pack my school bag, and go learn math.
But now and then, sleep comes like an easy dream. October, with its cool nights and sluggish sunrises, is one of those times. And, the heavier I sleep, the farther I travel, knocked out between my sheets.
This week, I’m dreaming of whales, shipwrecks, cold water, and the friend who recommended the book that houses those themes. Laurie Anderson tells a great story: the nights you aren’t dreaming, it’s because you are busy in someone else’s dream. It’s been weeks since my friend has had his own dreams. I can account for only the past six nights–what he was up to before I got hold of him is a story for another dreamer to tell.
Last night, the cold waves were like smooth pulled candy, frothing with globs of bright sprinkles, the ones that top ice cream sundaes. As the waves swelled and crashed, the sprinkles bled dye into the water, streaking the ocean like melting treats. The whales shot spume like exploding tins of shaken soda.
I wore slick flippers and a ridiculous bikini. Sat in a small wooden boat. Bobbed through the crests and troughs, and felt seasick. Overcome by the smell of sugar on the wind.
My friend, he rowed and rowed. Deeked around the whales. Rowed and rowed until I awoke.