I’m a terrible sleeper. I always have been. A chronic night owl, I was born for a theatre schedule, sleeping in, performing into the night hours, and winding down by 1:00 or 2:00am. People who have consistent schedules tend to think this odd, but to me, it is the stuff of happiness and normalcy, when I do my best thinking.
When I began working a more 9-5 style gig which then morphed into an 8-8 type of day, I was wrecked from exhaustion on a daily basis and continue to be from the incredible lack of sleep. I work three days a week at one of my jobs. I try to get into a normal sleep pattern and by the third day, I’m so close. I’ll get more than 5 hours and think wow, I’m doing better! Then I work my other job over the weekend and have a life and I become the nocturnal beast I was born to be. I catch up all weekend long.
I’ve always called myself a burrower. I thrash in my sleep, probably trying to burrow deeper and deeper into the mound of fluffy pillows I require on my side of the bed. A husband pillow, a King pillow, a regular fluffy pillow, and a neck pillow are just the tip of what I’d love to have cradling my head and shoulders. But oh wait, what else is in the bed? My husband. My poor husband takes a bit of a backseat to the mound of pillows towering next to him. I try to keep them all in a pile, but as I thrash and toss and turn through the night, they thrash and topple over with me onto his side of the bed.
Last night, I couldn’t get to sleep. I had napped during the day, my body was wracked with coughing fits and I shook the room with my sneezes. I turned on my right side and then my left. I tried more pillows and then less, my foot under the covers and then not. I tried an eye mask, lavender spray, games on my ipad, and turning up the heat on my heated mattress pad. Nothing worked.
I had to get up for work around 5:45am. My nose was irritated. At around 3:30am, I had an earth-shatteringly large sneeze that woke up my poor husband. Through his light snores, he whispered, “bless you,” and I smiled over at him in our moonlit room. I looked at his eyelashes flutter with sleep. I looked at his mouth hanging open in a semi crooked dreamy grin. I felt his leg twitch as he fell back to sleep. It took everything I had not to touch his head or wake him up to chat with me. He rolled over and I knew what would finally get me to sleep, what would finally stop my mind from racing and wishing and hoping and thinking and praying.
I cuddled up next to him, burrowing my head into his back, and got a whole hour’s sleep. I realized that my best sleep always comes when I was somehow touching my husband and not in the dirty guttural way some of you may be thinking. Marriage deepened these amazing intimacies by leaps and bounds. This was my partner, my lifelong best friend and the love of my life. This quiet, calm, loving man would never let my mind race away; he pulls me back to show me that we are in this together. With our feet entangled at the foot of our bed or my hand lightly resting inside his arm, I know with every touch and every breath we take together that things will be all right.
It’s the way I get through things now, my touchstone in life, the key to my sweet slumber.
We woke up this morning and had separated sometime during my alarm clock tango. I reached out to touch his arm and we shocked each other from static. He said, “ouch! We still got it!” before he rolled over to snooze a bit more.
I’m fairly certain we’ll always have it, to have and to hold in good times and in sleep.