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12,000 Nights

by Elizabeth Bussey Sowdal
Elizabeth Bussey Sowdal
I do not like springtime. I have a constant headache in the spring. I do not like that in the spring you can be both cold and sweaty at the same time. In the spring, despite the fact that I am forty-five years old and entirely too old for them, I always get a pimple on my back. It is never where I can reach it and it is always the sore kind. I really, really do not like that. There is more. I do not like the wind. I do not like the sneezing. Worst of all is my springtime sleeplessness.

I have a theory about springtime and insomnia and my theory, in it's entirety, is that you cannot sleep properly in the springtime because of the frequent changes in the air pressure. Ask around, ask your friends and relatives, and I think that you will hear from many of them that they have been tossing and turning these past nights. Perhaps they have had strange and disquieting dreams, if they slept at all. Perhaps some of them, like me, opened their eyes to check the time every hour on the hour all night long. They woke, thinking that they were already awake, to find their legs tangled in the covers, the top half of their bodies were freezing cold while from the waist down they roasted. The cat would not get off their feet. And their spouse was breathing in a very repetitive and annoying way. Despair niggled at the periphery of their consciousness. They perhaps considered drastic life changes. Throwing their pajama pants out the window. Sending a swift and pointy elbow into the ribs of Sleeping Breather. Catricide.

But it will pass. It is only Spring and it cannot last forever. The air pressure will find a place it likes for the summer and settle down soon and then we can all breathe a sigh of relief and get a good night's sleep. If this weather is not good for sleeping, it does give you time for thinking. I have been thinking a lot lately. Night after night after night. Just me and my thoughts, my hopes, my dreams, my memories and all of it accompanied by the steady, raspy in and out and in and out of Rip Van Michael's incessant nosebreathing. Breath Right Strips for Father's Day again this year, though he will not understand why and I will not tell him.

Last night I thought about a lot of different things. Between midnight and one I thought fondly of my Grandma. She's a peach. I love her. Then between one (which came sooner than you might have thought, so I might have dozed a teensy bit) and two I began to feel a little sentimental about my Grandma. I have not seen her in months. I think that I will go to see her this weekend. Between two and three I remembered that there were several things scheduled for Saturday which I could not change and did not want to miss. I imagined my darling Grandma in her cozy little house, snug as a bug there with my aunt just as comfy as two peas in a pod. I guessed they might chat about me sometimes and imagined that they chatted about me being their very favorite of all the kids and how I always had been . . .

Between three and four I imagined my Grandma had been sound asleep for hours and I thought that if she knew how much trouble I was having sleeping she would be very sorry for me. I wondered if I would live to be her age and decided there was a better chance of that now, what with my recent lifestyle changes - the no smoking, no coffee, more fiber, plans to start exercising very soon, probably next week for sure. I did a little Mental Math. I estimated that if I did live approximately as long as my Grandmother has lived so far it meant 12,000 or so more nights. Long, long dark nights.

Between four and five my eyelids fluttered open long enough to check the time twice. Those eyelids finally closed and I sighed a comfortable nose sigh and did not open my eyes again until 45 minutes after the time for which I had failed to set the alarm, an unfortunate oversight which did not occur to me one single time the whole time I was thinking and tossing and imagining that Grandma had always loved me best. One night down and approximately 11,999 to go. They can only get better.
Elizabeth Bussey Sowdal
"The Girl Detective's Theory of Everything" >
April 15, 2007 Column
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