Middle Of The Night, Me Without You

The cockroach has been crawling along my arm, pausing every now and then and then crawling on, to my hand from my elbow and then back again, but I am asleep, dreaming of someone I am not “supposed” to be dreaming of, so I ignore it. But eventually I have to wake up. It has bitten me, or something. And I piece together a recollection of the past few minutes or so, the crawling and then the apparent biting. I flick the thing away and grab the light switch. It’s 4 AM, and I wonder if I should just get up now. Some people do. Gym rats, high school swimmers, west coast investment bankers. But it’s still completely black outside and every so often creepy-looking cars cruise by on the usually busy street outside my window. Cars that seem very low to the ground, cars with tinted windows, or both.

I feel I haven’t really been asleep for a long time. My sleeping self has been a phony, untrustworthy. I wake up, even without the help of cockroaches, way too soon after going to sleep. Maybe this qualifies as being excited about life. I am ready to greet the day, as they say, at 4 AM, apparently. I use the cockroach as an excuse to be up and stay up this early. I take a small capsule of St. John’s Wort every morning. Sometimes I forget and nothing all that different happens from when I do take it. I am no more or less excited. But I continue to take it because the prospect of it alone is exciting.

Strange things happen in the hours between sane people’s REM sleep and sunrise. I feel closer to the earth, or rather all or some of the things in space that aren’t manmade. The moon, for example. Sitting in a chair at a safe distance from the cockroach, who has paused in an inaccessible place between the bed and the wall, waiting for me to return to the bed or to kill him, I read someone’s blog about the Japanese mythology surrounding rabbits: they live on the moon and make mochi, basically. I search for a book on this myth and others, and it’s like a bad dream, trying various spellings of the book on Amazon and getting nothing because, I decide, Amazon doesn’t care about books that are actually good or matter. I need to know more about the moon rabbits so that I can share this myth with my curious friend who is far away, the one I’d been dreaming about, probably, when the cockroach was surveying my arm for crumbs, or whatever it was doing. In my dreams this friend is like Sonic the Hedgehog’s sidekick Tails. Even if he’s not a featured player in the dreams he’s always there, Tails, running and somersaulting through space with me.

I think it should be just as unacceptable to address someone in writing as it is to address oneself aloud. If they knew. If they knew the real weight of one’s feelings, the volume of words, the number of magical thoughts. That the act of thinking about them and the moon and rabbits at 4 AM is a kind of spell cast, a desire to be heard, a conviction that one is being heard. I think somehow I am sending him a dream about moon rabbits and tomorrow he will wake up and think, What a nice dream, and will immediately find me responsible for the dream, and feel glad.

Here’s a way to get over someone: live a monastic existence, appreciating the wideness of an unshared bed, and write songs or books or unclassifiable material about them until the material itself becomes more interesting than the person ever was. It helps, of course, if the person never sees you, calls, or writes. Because every word from them is a pathetic crumb upon which you will gladly subsist, until suddenly there are no crumbs and you are forced, mercifully, to forage for another kind of sustenance. It turns out that art about heartbreak isn’t just dwelling or venting: it’s a way through, if not out. It is progress. Of course you will be tempted to share some of this “progress” with its enabler. You think that the art will be the thing that saves you, that finally brings you together once and for all. You are lost in translation and the truth does sound more appealing in song than in email.

The static gets in the way. The preferred mode of transportation — of the words, even of the song — is the Internet. Here I am at 4:30, approaching 5, on the Internet, because the Internet is as intrinsic to me as soil is to trees. I know no other way than the digital way, the best enabler of passive aggression, and of passivity in general. It’s also an enabler of action that probably should not be enacted in the first place. People who should really move on from each other squeeze in hours to Facebook chat from thousands of miles away. They will say they are staying connected and that the Internet is such a wonderful thing in the way that it allows people from across the globe to blah blah blah.

But to be in there, on there, in the Facebook chat, is to desire to not really live in an actual definable place on the time-space continuum. It is a desire to live in the ether with another body, floating through black unquantifiable space, a vastness so great even our two pairs of perfectly sharp eyes can’t get a handle on it, holding each other so as to not be gradually choreographed apart by anti-gravity. It is the middle-of-the-night equivalent of communication: nothing of any great significance can really happen during this time, can it? Yes, we are “friends” and we “build” our friendship with frequent communication, in addition to my stupid music and magical thinking. But give us a longstanding place, a sturdy place, in the actual world, either yours or mine (lest we forget they are two very different worlds), and what would happen? The static spoils us. It spoils my already overthinking mind. It gives me so much to go on. It floods me with things to interpret and reinterpret for hours, forever, at 5 in the morning.

Retreating to the couch, tucking my entire body and my head under a sheet and blanket to protect myself from the cockroach, that, it turned out, was already dead because I’d sprayed Lysol on it, I feel absurdly close to Tails, probably because I am half-sleep, almost dreaming, sleep-deprived, sleep-waking. I think there are three media through which he and I communicate: telepathy, Internet, reality. Right now it’s, of course, telepathy. And I survive fine without the other two because that first one is an intrinsic thing, resulting in some diluted version of the types of things that twins experience: strange coincidences, identical thoughts, happenstance face-to-face convergences. It’s not enough. It’s never enough. But how can I not just drive on into the future? The future is the only place where we might actually be, together, normal, real, adult, clear-eyed, honest. The future, and these various darknesses: the dead of night, my head. Brochures of the future. I’m not going anywhere, but I have the impetus to, and that is enough. TC mark

image – gianni, Flickr

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