Poor Little Me 4
Other people must sleep well. They must, because the world keeps functioning with some kind of steady rightness.
I don’t sleep well. Or, that is to say, not since a time before my memory of any sleep I have ever had. My memory of my past life is not very good. That may seem like a dramatically fictional statement, but what I mean by it is for more pedestrian. I simply have never had a very good memory for my own life. From what I can tell, it is hardly unusual for people to have foggy memories of their childhood. However, even at a young age I distinctly recall being unable to remember anything from a few years before. Even now, I feel my college years begin to slip away from me, just as I felt high slip away in college.
The earliest that I remember being obsessed with how poorly I slept was middle school. Even then, the memory is a palimpsest; a story told to a person told to a person, although the person was always me. You begin to buy your own fictions.
It never stopped. I know many people have trouble sleeping as teenagers, but it never stopped. I wake up tired every morning. I have woken up tired every morning since the beginning of time, as I reckon it. When I do wake up. When I haven’t been up all night.
For anyone who doesn’t know, the inability to sleep well is not principally horrific because it makes you tired. Its central horror is that it turns every day into wondering when you will get to sleep again. Spending your time waiting for the next time you will be asleep is a select kind of hell. Being unable to give a complete shit about the life around you because you can’t wait to be unconscious again saps what I can only imagine is a great deal of pleasure out of life. We reserve a special pity for those in comas, caught in a kind of limbo between life and death…but I spend my waking life dreaming of that limbo.
I can’t take satisfying naps. I can only fall asleep in the middle of the day for obscene periods of time that leave me feeling painful and unrefreshed.
The cliche bemoans us spending a third of our life asleep. Given the option in times of unemployment, I have spend as much as half the day (really, as much as two-thirds of the day) in bed, indulging in fitful and disappointing orgasms of sleep.
I don’t dream of a better waking life — indeed, I rarely dream. I daydream of a dark and dreamless sleeping life. Not death. Death scares me appropriately. Sleep is defined by waking, as everything is by its opposite. Really all I want is to wake up one day and feel satisfied. But isn’t that the goal of it all? Satisfaction?
If I haven’t been satisfied by anything else at this point, I can’t really ask it of sleep.