It’s 2:30 in the morning.
I’m watching my third episode of Dawson’s Creek. Not because I particularly want to be watching Dawson’s Creek, but because watching the tortured exploits of pretty fictional people is preferable to wrestling with the real-life mental gymnastics going on in my own head.
My little toe hurts, blistered from the long walk I’d taken with a friend earlier in the evening. I take my foot out of the covers. I put it back under. I take it out again. This goes on for a very long time.
My shoulder hurts too. I carefully re-stack my pillows, and position myself more comfortably.
I listen to the fan, wishing that the rythmic tick tick tick of its blades would lull me to sleep.
I sneeze two times, then three. When I cough five minutes later, I’m convinced I’m getting a cold, and almost get up to get myself a cup of Vitamin C drink. I decide I’m too tired to move at the moment.
I have a headache. I could get ibuprofen when I get up to get the Vitamin C.
I replay the conversation I had with my friend, every word – both hers and mine – on a long continuous loop in my head.
I replay other conversations, other days, other experiences…. some of them a decade old.
I think of the upcoming week, my mind’s eye visualizing each day on the calendar and mentally counting down the days until my next yoga class, the doctor’s appointment, the concert, the weekend.
I think of each of my kids for a painstakingly long time, believing the twisted nighttime fallacy that if I just think long enough and hard enough and deep enough that I can not only solve all their problems, but also solve all the problems in the world.
I realize at some point that my cheek is wet, and I wonder if I’d started crying without my realizing it, or if my fatigued eyes have simply started leaking.
I briefly doze just as Michelle Williams is about to kiss Chad Michael Murray, and I sleep long enough to be jolted away by a nightmare, this time taking place in a hospital. My heart is racing, my head is pounding, and my blister is rubbing against the sheets. I repeat the in-and-out of the covers process a half dozen more times.
I wait for the sweet release of sleep.
I turn on a fourth Dawson’s Creek, and focus once again on the pretty fictional people.