I’m never the first one asleep. I don’t sleep on planes, or anywhere it would be convenient, and favorable for all, to shed a little bit of my anxiety. I realize people who nap are healthier, that they live longer, but I wasn’t built with this ability. I suppose if I suddenly found myself in the armed forces, I’d find a way to sleep, to get it while I could. I hear that’s how people can become good nappers: when they’re completely deprived of sleep. It becomes a necessity. They become so deft that they can even sleep with their eyes open–something I don’t entirely believe is possible. Doctors are great nappers. The Wasband could fall asleep anywhere, even in someone else’s bed. Budumpbump. Even being that cheeky doesn’t tucker me out. Alcohol might slow me down, but I’ve never passed out.
Some people have stories their parents still tell, stories about how, as a child, they fell asleep at the dinner table, their head, face first, into a bowl of spaghetti. I’m not one of these people. I always resisted sleep, thinking I was missing out on the big moments. I could hear the company downstairs, my father’s laugh, and I could picture his whole head turning red. I hated the idea of missing a second of the living.
When I do fall asleep, it’s always on my stomach, with one leg knocked out. I imagine beds of my past, trying to comfort myself, to leave all the things in my life now and return to a time when there was company downstairs and voices that carried. When I fell asleep in high school, I was boy crazy and dating, so at night, as I willed myself to sleep, if a car whizzed by the house, I always imagined it might be that boy, maybe after a fight we’d had over the phone, the one where I felt he was too quiet, where I asked if he really loved me and it took him too long to answer. I was impossible, and frankly, I still am. Still, I imagined that he couldn’t resist driving to my house, to throw a pebble at my window, the way it’s done in John Hughes films. I’d dart up, and peek through my blinds, hoping to see a car in our driveway. There never was. Then I’d switch sides–still on my stomach, but now the other leg kicked out–and wish my house was like Doogie Howser’s, with an accessible roof and a window that swung open. Even if I had the window and the house, I remember thinking, it’s not like anyone would use it. But by morning, I’d forget things like that and apply my blue eyeliner and tease my bangs, hopeful that today would be the day where my whole life changed.
Now when I’m trying to sleep, I think of my days and try to will the stress away, try to tell myself that I’ll be loved no matter how my book does, that I’m okay just as I am, that everything that frightens me is really irrational, that I’ll see in time. And none of this self talk helps. Then baby songs infiltrate, "let’s all click our sticks today." I change positions again. And I know I’ll never stop worrying if I’ve made the right decisions with my life, with my words, and with my choices, and I wonder if really I’m any different than the girl in her parents’ house who keeps hoping someone will drive up and rescue her.