You pull a pillow to your belly like it was a man and curl up around it. You check the time—2:22 a.m.—and say to yourself, It’s not time to get up yet. Two hours later, between the dreaming and the lying that has been taking place between your ears, you reel yourself in from another sleepless night. You go to make the lights and turn the coffee on.
Your ears have been trained somehow to hear every last loving thing God put on the planet. Most recently you have been hearing and then totally internalizing the sounds being made around you in the neighborhood. There has been a lot of Mexican music being played with very heavy bass and strong accordion for a week or a month; even if it had only been played for a night, it would have stuck in your brain with all the beats and rhythms. At the thought of it, your brain starts chanting the sing-alongs from Girl Scout campfires you were supposed to be at when you were inside your sleeping bag, writing postcards home from your bunk. You remember willing yourself to stay awake when you were four, full of tomato soup and cheese after lunch, wanting to hear for the millionth time how those kids got away from the stove and the witch.
Sometimes even now, trying to nap is like being at every loud party you’ve ever attended, and then finally getting to retreat to your room, where you can still hear the band from a distance, but it’s not as loud as before.
The noise in your brain can reproduce the cackle of a neighbor’s laugh, the fire engine that went down the street yesterday, and the beat to all Cyndi Lauper songs. Conversations between multiple people is a barrage of noise to your ears, in memory, when you’re supposed to be working on sleep hygiene. Recently it’s been more heavy-metal repercussions, because another neighbor got a drum set and all the songs he practices implant themselves in your head too. Sounds can last a lifetime—dogs barking, heavy bass, a motorcycle up the street, a basketball being bounced. A dog can be barking and the neighbors cleaning to heavy metal music all day, but you sometimes convince your brain that this is solace.
It is unpunctuated noise.
Sometimes as you lie in these states of ill humor, thinking of rose gardens and fishing, the recycle truck comes down the street. It sounds like a school bus, but it is obviously the recycle truck because God and everyone’s cans and bottles from the week before are now being dumped from bins into the truck itself. You heard the sounds of neighbors dumping glass and metal into their bins the entire week, on individual nights and mornings. It’s just louder when the recycle truck comes through and smashes it all together.
What safe days, these days after Thanksgiving, when you can kind of hide if your own Thanksgiving didn’t go especially as planned. The days after Thanksgiving can be a buffer between how this holiday went and how you want the rest of your life to go. Not that you have any special powers.
There is the tug and pull of work and temperature, holidays and preparedness, your love for someone and your ability to love something else even more.
You trundle from the planting beds in your back yard to your own bed, wondering if this will be the day for two showers instead of one.