I awaken in the dark and as time passes I realize sleep has left me. This won’t be one of those times when I roll over and fall back into it.
There are theories that you should stay in bed and theories that you should get up. This time I get up.
I can’t wrap myself in the warmth of my bathrobe because I spread it over the bed last night and Raffie, the white cat, is curled up on it.
I cross the living room in only a nightgown. Tamar the dog doesn’t come with me. Usually she does, but once in awhile she lets me wander off on my own.
The house is cold and comfortless at this time of night. I put on Fred’s old old bathrobe, the one I replaced for him at Christmas about 10 years ago. But he never threw the first one out and it’s good to have it now, spare.
I think to retreat to the small room that heats up quickly with a space heater. I plug it in, aware that this is at odds with the compulsion to just sit and do nothing, frozen into paralysis by the cold. I feel like someone else to be plugging in this heater, fighting back.
I think about the TV. That’s what people do, right, in the middle of the night when they can’t sleep? But I don’t think I can stomach the blare, the harsh light, too rough on my senses.
I didn’t get to read my book all weekend. I’m only a few pages into it. We haven’t become friends yet. It’s early enough to abandon it, but I will trudge a little further, hoping to take root in its soil.
I went to the library last week and browsed the shelves of old fiction, beat-up hardbacks that have been there for decades. It didn’t take long before I had a handful. I picked one book because I liked its spine, and so far it is the only one I have read, losing myself in it for delicious days.
When I was 9 and 10, 11 and 12 I walked every Saturday after breakfast to the library with my younger sister.
We walked down our quiet street, past a field with horses, then turned onto the busier main road and walked up the hill.
The sidewalk we walked on was old and broken, with no sharp edge to separate it from the street. Woods and fences hiding maybe a house or two lined our walk. I walked on the light part of the sidewalk, she walked on the strip that was darker. Sometimes, if someone passed us, we spoke to each other in gibberish, hoping the passing adult would think we were foreigners.
We returned last week’s books at the desk where the one librarian sat. The children’s books were on shelves that stood independently in the middle of the shadowy, ill-lit room. You walked around them. The adult books lined the walls reaching above our heads. We chose new books, got them stamped and stopped to buy candy on the way home.
Often by the time we got back I was so angry with my sister I marched ahead, wanting her to disappear, wanting her wiped off the face of the earth, knowing there would never be justice.
Last night I read in the warm room, a heavy sweater on my lap for extra warmth. I didn’t turn the lamp on, just the overhead. I wanted more light, thought about eye strain and rebelled against the need for constant self-care. So many years of warnings about eye strain, and yet I can still see, what difference will another half hour make, perhaps they are wrong.
I hear Fred. I hope he will look in and he does, bleary but sympathetic. “I’m okay,” I reassure him, though the rumblings in my calm that erupted out of nowhere the evening before are rumbling again.
Difficulties storm my mind with no solutions though I tell myself that tomorrow I will think of something.
A friend the other night pontificated on the difference between feeling and emotion.
I think about it on the small soft sofa that is so accepting of people, cats, the dog. I liked that my friend had traveled to a foreign city and gone to a library just to look up these two words in the most complete multi-volume dictionary in the English language.
I think over his definitions, knowing that it is not important to me to differentiate. I know when to use one word and when to use the other.