If I could sleep forever, I could forget about everything

There are nights when I cannot sleep, for instead of seeking slumber, I am composing elaborate speeches. I’ve gotten quite good. This, I will explain to my imaginary audience, is how I feel about you. And I will go on to delineate a thousand reasons why you, my sweet one, are wrong, and I am right (“…and that is why it should be pronounced toh-may-toh. The defense rests.”).

I will get up in the middle night and chug a whole bottle of diet green tea, not quite remembering in the morning why I am still clutching the sweet plastic. How did this happen? There are the mornings I wake up with red stains on my mouth and teeth and for minutes I will wonder if I killed someone and ate their organs or if I just drank all the cranberry juice out of yet another plastic bottle left empty in the ice box.

I am sleeping too much and too little these days.

Resting Somnambulist IV, Pyke Koch

Resting Somnambulist IV, Pyke Koch

I don’t think I’m asleep when I get up from bed, walk down the hallway into to the kitchen – I am not a somnambulist – for I have vague memories of blinking hard against the refrigerator lights, squinting to avoid the harsh transition from darkness to fridge. As soon as the vague and honeyed scent of Lipton prepackaged tea wafts below my nose, there is an accompanying bulb over my head. “Ah,” I will think, “I drank this for sure.”

And this morning, when I accidentally found a hairbrush underneath my pillow and a large clump of hair creating a short but wiry trail from my head to the beaded ends of brush bristles, I understood that at some point in the night, I woke up and walked to the bathroom, grabbed my hairbrush and started weaving the detangler through my obstinate locks back in the blue bed, trying to make something within me feel better. But what was wrong? And why did brushing help?

My sleepover friends and casual nap observers have told me that I speak in my sleep. Sometimes I’ll cry a little (like a puppy!) and sometimes I’ll hum or sing. I’ve been told that during particularly bad bouts of nausea, I will dry-heave in my sleep. Once, my father told me that he heard me making gurgling noises as he walked by my room. I, of course, remember nothing.

I like to think that I take out my petty little sufferings in my sleep – the maudlin impulses that govern my psyche. That if I cry, or laugh, or declare my friends the presidents of my public hair (something I apparently did one night), I do so because within me there is emotion trying to release, that my body is trying to undrown itself (a Spanish word, desahogar, that I wish sounded as simple and poetic in English, to unburden is not to undrown. Undrown is replacing water with air, learning how to breathe again, dislodging the agent of suffocation. This is one of the words I love.) I like to think that my sleeping self takes umbrage with the trifling exploits I’ve undertaken during my conscious hours. Maybe I just think my impulses Manichaean, two opposite selves in constant conflict.

I’m probably just being dramatic. I’m sure I just got thirsty. I’m sure that I was having sleepy conversation in my dreams. I’m sure it’s all brain waves and misfiring synapses. But that doesn’t explain the brush.

I’m not really sure what explains the brush. Maybe I’m just weird.