It wasn’t a pretty thing, my mind reeling 100 mph, a train speeding across the continent, staying on the tracks of worry and insomnia, but three hours behind and picking up delays en route.
It started with a hot night, made far hotter when the phone charger in our bedroom overheated and blew out an electrical socket and, subsequently, the electricity in the bedroom. No biggie except there was no way to plug in one of our home’s two window units, and at 10 p.m., it was still in the 90s. So I set up camp on the living room couch, butting over Forest — who has been sleeping there on hot nights — to another couch. Ken went to sleep on the futon couch on the porch. The confused dog — used to sleeping by our bed — lay down in our hot bedroom only to get up and roam all night. The cat who usually sleeps on my chest when I’m having a hard night vanished (terrified by the earlier visit of a chihuahua puppy, who probably seemed a mutant rat from another planet). Meanwhile, the other cat, who suffers from PTSD, slept near my feet, only to growl and bat her claw at my heels every so often.
It wasn’t a good night.
I thought I would sleep well. After all, I was tired, had only consumed a minimal of caffeine and hadn’t slept enough the night before. I was outrageously wrong.
The worry wandered into me slowly, a mild concern at first about the future about the poet laureate program and whether I would be able to house the program with another organization to keep it afloat, then how I would do the necessary fundraising, programming, and facilitating the process for finding a new poet laureate. Then the worry tore wider open to encompass the state of the arts in Kansas. From there, my mind raced toward every situation in my life in which I’m waiting for an answer or resolution. This topic could easily take all night, and so it seemed it did.
Sometime between my sitting up and lying down, going to the bathroom and sipping some water, pacing a little and then lying still while doing relaxation exercises (which my body simply rolled its eyes at), Natalie walked into the greenhouse and turned on the light. “What are you doing?” I called out. “Just taking care of something,” she answered. “What?” I asked. A pause. “I don’t know,” she answered, then slept-walked herself back to bed.
I was taking care of something, and I didn’t know what it was either. Knowing that what I worried about was not worthy of my sacrificed sleep didn’t help. Having taken some cold medicine other nights of insomnia to knock myself out wasn’t a good option, considering how would be exhausted the next day. Other sleep herbs or meds I’ve tried in the past didn’t appeal for a variety of reactions: fatigue, shakiness or hallucinations. So I lay there and worried, planning my way through one imaginary challenge after another.
When I finally slept, I dreamt of visiting an old friend who had done me wrong, only to find this friend lives in a falling-down mansion filled with filth and petty criminals. I had to pay them money to escape with my life. I did escape, however, this morning to daylight where the worries burn away, the wind makes the cottonwood leaves shine and shake, and NPR plays its homecoming jingle in the background. Now it’s time to ride off into the sun without the crazed companions of the night, hoping that tonight, I travel solo and easily into the land of nod.