When I Wake Up

I woke up with a gasp- the way people do on TV when they’ve almost drowned and are getting CPR.  I gasped.  The sun was shining outside and I looked around the room.  I was sitting at my desk, which was cluttered with papers and wires and eyeglasses and pens.  Everything was arranged the same as it was before I woke up, which was surprising.

Leaning back in my chair I could see my dog napping in a sliver of sunshine in the other room.  She sighed heavily as I watched her.  My eyes trailed slowly back to the surface of my desk, passing little balls of dust and dog hair that endlessly accumulate around the baseboards.  Being so awake felt like an ache, a too bright light.  I stood up and walked to the window.

The light of the springtime sun rinsed everything on the street below me.  Sparrows and robins flitted around bare branches and cars gleamed as they wooshed by.  I noticed for the first time in four months that my head was attached to a torso with arms and legs and hands and feet.  Inside my torso my guts and blood whirred along noisily.  I gulped air into my lungs, filling them and making my heart race.

As I dug my sneakers out of the closet I admitted that I recognized this feeling.  In the past it made me turn on music when I’m home alone, and buy new packets of my mechanical pencils so I can write on yellow legal pads and drive fast.  But there’s a restlessness that comes along with it too.  I’m uncomfortable being so awake.  Everything has edges, and all the edges are sharp.

I have to start running once I wake up.  I run until my lungs burn and my bones clatter and then I run around the block twice more.  Sleeping at night seems like an interesting concept, but one I’m far from being able to incorporate into my own life.  I think about something until I’ve figured how I feel about it, then I think it the opposite way.

Here’s the thing- I can’t stay awake very long.  Everything gets in the way.  Everybody pulls and calls and coughs and sits and rides and needs and blurs those sharp edges.  After a few hours or days or weeks or months the ache goes away.  It’s hard to notice unless something out of the ordinary happens, or you go to a museum in the middle of the day for no reason.  And blurred edges have a way of keeping you out of museums in the middle of the day.  Now I know though, after living for a little while, that I’ll wake up again.  With a gasp, the way people do on TV when they’ve almost drowned and are getting CPR.


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