the longest nights

I can’t sleep.

Oh, sure, I can hear my grandmother’s voice in the back of my head pointing out that I didn’t even try much, now did I?, but there’s not much point. I can’t sleep.

I suspect that by morning I’ll be fighting a migraine or a cluster headache or whatever the hell it’s called when my head feels like it’s attached to a live wire that carries, not electricity, but pain. I’ve come off a long and wild day at work, to a home where my family treated me like a princess – dinner ready, intelligent stuff to watch on TV, the whole works.

But every single sound I’ve heard all night has been too loud. My husband’s voice was too loud. The television was too loud. I walked the dog and the leaves were too loud. The train running in the valley about a mile from my house echoes up into my yard, and it’s too loud.

Maybe it wouldn’t be so loud if it wasn’t so cold. Despite warm socks, a heated office, and warm clothes and blankets here at home, my feet have been freezing all day.

And everything’s been too close. My work clothes were too close. I changed into the loosest pair of jeans I own and a comfy teeshirt, and it was too close. The dog was too close. My husband was too close. And let me tell you, when I feel crowded by the man who I’d willingly spend my life stapled to, if being stapled to him was required, something is wrong.

But right now my head doesn’t hurt. Right now I don’t feel needles stabbing into my cheeks, and I can’t count my pulse through my left eyebrow. And if somehow I could push the entire universe back by about three feet so I could get some space and just breathe I’d probably be fine.

Nighthawk is upstairs, snoring. Jessiedog is snoring from her bed aside of ours. I’m on the sofa, thinking that these keys are too loud, and so is the server.

The clock is too loud, though strangely its ticking is comforting. I grew up in a house with an old-fashioned chain-driven cuckoo clock – someday I’ll own one of my own – and it always ran in the living room, where I was exiled to the sofa when I couldn’t sleep. When I close my eyes I can feel the cold emanating off of Nana’s mirror behind me, hanging the length of the sofa on the wall. I can see the recliner in the corner with the rainbow-colored crocheted seat covers. The cuckoo clock is in the right corner, between the stairs and the fire place, with its huge slate hearth. The room was usually dark, like this one is now, but i can see the glow of the kitchen lights as they reflect off the dining room table. Nana and my folks liked to sit around the kitchen table and just talk sometimes. On nights like this when I couldn’t sleep, they’d put me on the sofa, and then go into the kitchen and talk about whatever parents talk about.

Eventually, the warmth of Nana’s crocheted afghan and the song of the clock would wrap around my arms and my shoulders and my freezing toes and lull me to sleep, and Dad would carry me upstairs to bed, but until then, I remember curling up in a ball on that sofa and watching the glow of the lights. The murmer of their voices was interrupted every second by the tick-tock-tick, and the occasional jangling of the dog’s collar.

I miss being small.

I can feel my pulse in my temples now.

I can’t sleep.