I can't sleep. More precisely, I can fall asleep, but I can't stay asleep. My mind just won't remain submerged; it breaches the surface over and over, all night, like a lonely blue whale in dark water.
There used to be a peaceful time between sleeping and waking, but now the line between rest and worry is tissue paper thin. One second I am sound asleep, and the very next, the brain snaps on, floodlights on a football field.
Did anyone let the dog out?
Have we ruined the planet?
Where are the monarchs this fall?
Did we kill the butterflies, like the bees?
What part am I playing in the ruin?
Why is this pillow so flat?
Why is Tom breathing so loudly?
Is there any way I could just sleep in my own little bed, and still be happily married?
Was it a mistake to give up my job, and stay home to raise Ben?
Might he have been better off without so much of me?
Why is it so hot in here?
What time is it?
Maybe I should check my phone.
I hate my phone.
Am I fat?
Is Big Tech brainwashing my kids?
Is Fox News is brainwashing my neighbors?
Is MSNBC brainwashing me?
Is it too late for Ambien?
I rise, take a sip of water, go to the bathroom. On my way back, I pause at the open window. Moonlight glints off the marsh grass, a breeze rustles the tall oaks beyond. It always surprises me how much you can see, if you look, even in the dark of night.
I return to bed and fall back to sleep, somehow. But only for an hour or two. Soon my mind breaks through the surface again, a wakeful, watchful creature, roaming the deep and shallow waters.