Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Danse Russe

A long time ago, E. pointed out to me that when I stay up into the middle of the night and on into the early morning hours, what opens up for me is not simply more time in my day, but time of a different quality.

E.'s comment has been sitting with me for all of these months, as I've been paying more attention to the rhythm of my wakefulness. My life is not much the same one I was living when I wrote the post she responded to that day--as far as sleep goes, the most important difference is that Z. is now sleeping through the night almost every night; therefore, I am, too. When I lie down, I now expect to sleep until morning, and I do, almost every night. During the years of broken sleep that started early in my pregnancy, sleep was not much more restful than waking. Other women look to the end of nursing as when they get their bodies back, but this is it for me. Sleep has become worthwhile again. The circles under my eyes are less fierce than they were, and I can imagine a time when they fade altogether.

I made a commitment, this Fall, to go up to bed when A. does, and to the extent that I'm able to honor that commitment, I am asleep before midnight, sometimes before 11. But I'd say about once a week, often twice, I'm not going up to bed at anything like a reasonable hour for someone who intends to get a toddler to school by 8, knowing that toddler takes a good two hours to get to school some days. Instead, I am staying up for hours past midnight, and sometimes until so late that there seems to be very little point in sleeping when A.'s alarm is going to go off so soon.

So there is something about those hours that I need, and those nights when I seize that time, I need at least two hours after my last human contact, my last email or goodnight kiss.

As the people I love go to sleep, I'm freed up to fritter. There are nights I've spent importing cd's onto my computer, nights I've spent reading the New Yorker, nights I've spent re-reading love letters, nights I've spent knitting and absorbed in the latest mystery novel, nights I've spent researching a topic I only just discovered I needed to know everything about, nights I've spent in tears writing email I knew I wouldn't send, nights of alphabetizing, shopping for clothes, doing laundry, sorting yarn, cleaning the stove. And one night last Spring that I spent washing the kitchen floor with a sponge, listening to NPR turned down low.

I have not yet danced naked before the bathroom mirror (yet!), but I have sung to myself "I am lonely, lonely./I was born to be lonely,/I am best so!"

Who shall say I am not
the happy genius of my household?

And you, my friends? Are you ever also lonely, lonely, and best so? Tell me all about it.

(All due credit to Wm. Carlos Williams, and tonight I am going to bed now, and not two hours from now.)


Scrivener said...

That last comment was me. I wonder if you'd be willing to delete it for me? Sorry, but I didn't think the typekey sign-in would actually work, and then didn't know that it would display that name. D'oh.

Anyway, as to your post, I'm pretty much just nodding my head. But I was kinda up too late last night and then awake too early this morning to say a whole lot coherent.

S. said...

Scriv, done!

Scrivener said...

Thanks. I didn't mention it before, but I love that Williams poem before, which I didn't recognize, or maybe have forgotten? It really hit me this morning, though.

Magpie said...

It's that time of your own. I need it too - but my private time usually comes on the train - the benefit of the commute. I usually go to bed when Miss M. does, but sometimes I don't and those hours when she's asleep and I'm downstairs feel stolen and wonderful.

Julia said...

Yes, I seem to function that way too. Sanity time. Or pressure relief valve. I often spend the time on the blogs, though. :) But sometimes, it's laundry and whatever I have saved up on my TiVo. Tomorrow may be one of those nights.

(un)relaxeddad said...

It's occasionally a cause of stress in our house (though at the moment, of course, we both just want to sleep all we can with a newborn on our hands). 'Born to be lonely..' I can empathise with that.

I can't exist without time alone, and it's the only thing I'd like more of. Supermum understands and usually puts up with the early mornings and later nights. It's the stillness I crave, of nothing or nobody around. The last-person-still-up -after-a-party -and-sober feeling.

jo(e) said...

When my kids were little, I used to sometimes just love staying up late after the kids and my husband were asleep because it was my alone time, the only time I could just be myself with no one to take care of.

Now that I have teenagers who stay up late, I find that getting up early, while everyone in the house is still asleep, gives me that same alone time that I crave.