Guess who just hibernated for half a day? Not kidding, kiddos: Twelve hours of sleep!
And I would’ve kept going if it weren’t for my self-delusion that someone out there was waiting for my words; that my art was relevant (some days), and that this daily activity made up my life’s meaning (for now). On such mornings, I wonder what it would be like if I had a child to feed. Or a goat. Would I still exercise such selfishness in my sleeping habits?
And let me tell you, my kiddos: I’ve got sleeping habits galore.
According to my motha, I was never the child to refuse a midday nap.
“Vera? Boom!” she would order me whenever she caught me spying on her from behind the bars of my crib. (She’d always be saying my name in such a way as if I were perpetually in trouble.)
That shorthand command for sleep would interrupt all of my activity, and I would collapse into slumber. I could be gnawing on my toe, or constructing caves out of crocheted blankets; or trying to balance on my pigeon toed feet while frowning at our black-and-white telly: If mother said “Boom!” — I was out, in seconds.
At first, it amused her to no end. She’d wait for me to be entangled in the most awkward position, like trying to reach one leg to the top bar, or braiding myself into a pretzel. (Apparently, I was always quite bendy. Still am, to this day. My lovers — are so lucky!) On command, I’d drop everything and hit the pillow; and she would laugh and laugh — in the way that only my motha could: violently and shockingly loud. Then, she’d tell my father to go check on me. (Apparently, tucking me in was his duty alone. Still is, to this day. My lovers — are so unlucky!)
For a while there, she swapped my name for “Boom!” altogether. Why waste her breath, right?
“Boom?! Boom!” (She’d still be saying it in such a way as if I were perpetually in trouble though.)
Eventually, the joke got old; and although motha still utilized shorthand for most of her parenting, she would no longer laugh, at my expense: violently and shockingly loud. It must’ve made me sad then. I don’t really remember.
These days, it is my lovers’ lot to suffer through my sleeping habits’ galore. Many have testified to some violent shit that goes down on my side of the bed. Some have even had bruises to prove it. And many have wondered about all the heat and sweat I produced when in the grips of my unconscious:
“It’s like a war zone, in the tropics — sleeping with you,” one of the departed joked.
And if I get comfortable enough, I can fall asleep anywhere; which is why all of my beloveds harbor anecdotes of my naps in the strangest and most unlikely places.
“I was afraid to walk out of the room,” another, most recently departed recently testified. “I’d come back: and you’d be flat on you face, asleep… I’d have to wake you up, just to make sure you were alive.”
Yesterday, I fell asleep on the beach, my kiddos, waiting for a brown honey to join me. She was running late: My love. But while I was dreaming of her hips and soul (both quite generous); while I was listening to my own heart moan with gratitude for this love (one and many); while I suddenly discovered myself no longer alone in this lonely city; someone must’ve said, “Boom!” — and I was out, in seconds.
Or may be it was the hissing of the Pacific that knocked me out. It was so violent and purposeful, kind of like my motha’s laughter. Fucking lullaby.
Or perhaps it was the background murmur by a group of young French boys who insisted on dropping their towels two meters down from my brown ass.
“San-tah… Moni-kah?” they took turns pronouncing.
“Shhh,” the Ocean joined in; and I was out, in seconds.
Occasionally, I’d wake up, look back over my shoulder and catch one of the boys grinning his silly smile, at my ass, then my face.
“Yourr velkom,” I’d think. My brown love was still running late; so I waited to go back to sleep while watching the planet do its thing from underneath my Lorrie Moore novel, with which I’d covered my eyes.
At a mat nearby, an aging, balding athlete was fixing a bulge underneath his navy blue speedo. He would seem ridiculous, but his bulge was no laughing matter. And he was oh so serious!
“Mazel tov,” I half-thought, half-dreamt, and turned my face the other way.
I watched young, limber women get dressed. The way they got up, caressed themselves from dust and sand; the way their hair flapped in the wind, like the Golden Fleeces — it made me wonder if they were already in my dreams. Their curvatures blocked the sun. (Or was it Lorrie Moore, on my face?) I watched the intricate workings of their zippers, and buttons, a ties; and they would be so focused and calm, I had to have thought them up.
A handful of young kids walked by my head — each a mixture of several countries — talking their eco-politics. Oh, they were so of the now! Bits of sand got separated from their feet, landed in my hair and woke me up — to their now.
I rolled over.
At the other end of the beach, half a dozen of boys were playing volleyball. I watched them move, so unlike me. So unlikely. One young one was standing to the side, with his hands on his locked hips. He reminded me of a three-year old I’ve never had; and of a man-child I’ve just finished having. I started to weep, into the open pages of Lorrie Moore.
“Shhh,” went the Ocean.
And I was out, in seconds.