Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Most nights I wake up alarmed, pulled through sleep to lay rigid, scared of the shapes the dark has turned my familiar objects in to. A small section of my brain always clears its throat and tries to think logically, but the rest of it is too sure that my standing mirror has become an axe murderer to pay much attention.

This is an old habit by now--almost nightly for the last few months--and I deal with it almost reflexively by imagining all of the lives I could be living elsewhere right now. A house on an empty stretch of beach, maybe, smelling of the sharp tang of salt water, with a dog and a small girl with long curly hair trailing sand through the doorway. An apartment made of glass, high up, smelling of furniture polish and tomato sauce, with my hair pulled back and glasses on. Standing on a front porch near a mountain, someone else's horses in view just near a distant line of pine trees, hand on a rough wooden rocking chair. Other lives in other places. Slowly my muscles start to relax and my brain resolves what I think is there with what is actually there. A mirror, a bathrobe, the sound of a bus rumbling past outside. Quiet and softly lonely, and definitely actually mine.

There's always a phrase I am thinking of that is comforting (lately, "happy in the bathtub in the abacus of the rains" from an Elvis Perkins song), and I repeat it to myself, running it through my fingers like beads in a dark room that is familiar and safe again. Finally my hearbeat slows, and I settle back to sleep.

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