I worked myself into a frenzy this week. I have that tendency: work and stresses and stupid worries of various kinds just build and build and build, and then I sleep less and less and less.
And then I crash, from too much sleep lost, or from whatever was stressing me out being solved. I feel like that now, like I’ve come out of something dark. When I did sleep the past few nights I dreamt strange and convoluted dreams, populated by people from work. I woke in the mornings late, dazed, tired already.
I’m still tired, but I’m calmer. These days I’ve been trying to get my bearings in a working life, taking refuge in small things. I listen to music a lot, on my commutes, and I feel fiercely protective of that time alone with my headphones. I laugh with my dog, at his nightly antics, his facial expressions, his need to lick my face, my hands, my feet. He sometimes winks — both Billy and I have seen it, so I no longer think I’m imagining it — and every time he does my heart catches and I feel the need to look behind me, as if he might be winking at someone else.
I’ve been trying to hide in books, too, a refuge I haven’t taken advantage of enough. One side benefit of insomnia is uninterrupted quiet time to read, and so I’ve spent hours blissfully lost in novels recently.
…. And last night it rained. I heard the gurgling of water in the gutters and the patter on the roof early this morning. It was no summer thunderstorm, the kind of wild summer rain that I sometimes dream about and wish for, the kind of rain that I grew up with, but it was rain all the same, the first in several months. I don’t know that I’ve ever heard the rain in July in San Francisco. I took the dog out around 6 am, and the rain had softened to a heavy, silent mist. I didn’t feel it as I walked, but by the time I returned my face was slick and my jeans were soaked. The dog’s fur was spiked with wet.
By the time I walked down the hill to the train just before 8, the rain had stopped altogether.
The loss of sleep makes normal situations seem like strange dreamy other realities. This morning on the train our driver made an announcement over the loudspeaker, but those of us in the second car couldn’t hear it. All we could make out was the word “sorry.” But then our train pulled out, and the driver changed the sign to read “sorry, no passengers” and we in the second car realized we were supposed to have gotten off. I stood by the door, full of irrational thought, scared that we’d never be let out. We sped through station after station until I tugged on the cord to signal that we were stil back there in the second car, and we wanted to stop. It felt unreal: I saw myself riding a half-empty train labeled “sorry, no passengers” through stations where the train would have normally stopped. The faces of the people on the platforms we sped by were blank, unseeing. I don’t think it would have seemed odd if it had all transpired — the other passengers faces growing animated with the realization that we were stuck in the car — in black and white.