Sometimes I’m an insomniac. I’ll lie in bed and stare at the ceiling, or where I think the ceiling is supposed to be because I can’t see it in the pitch dark of the room. And I’ll do that for hours, each moment blending into the next until the room begins to lighten and I can eventually see the ceiling. I count my breaths — the deep ins and the shallow outs — wondering if that’s how it feels for people who have trouble breathing. I don’t count sheep because they make too much noise in my head. It’s silence I crave, a deep silence that helps me relax, because that’s what keeps me up: stress.
Sometimes I’m an insomniac. I’ll stay up well past my bedtime, watching the television, but really seeing through it, like it’s a ghost floating across my vision, like it’s a reflex and not a designed enterprise. The characters move and talk to one another, but I feel like they’re talking to me through water, like they’ve been dunked under and bubbles are rising to the surface along with some snatches of conversation. I don’t know why I don’t just go to bed, but I can’t seem to help the frozen pose I adopt at those moments. Eventually I force myself to rise, to get up from my stupor and stumble up the stairs where I know I’ve got a date with a dark ceiling. Maybe that’s why I adopt the pose and I don’t want to go to bed after all. I learn something new about myself all the time.
If only that knowledge would help me break the cycle of insomnia then I would welcome it with open arms. But it won’t, and I can’t. I just find myself hoping that at some point it will solve itself, that it will work itself out like a future math equation. I cling to that wish like a proton to a neutron, forever tired but never resting. Maybe tonight there will be a pause in the cycle. Maybe tonight.