I am tightly wound. Like someone has taken a straw and began to turn it until it is a mangled mess of a knot. Remember doing that as a kid? Taking a normal straw, and then twisting and twisting. Someone then takes a finger and flicks it until it snaps open extorting a “pop” as air evacuates from the pressure in the center. I empathize with that straw. I just hope no one flicks me. It will not be a quick expulsion of air, but an agonizingly long deflation that leaves me a quivering, quaking mess of sobbing hormonal twenty-something girl. You know my emotional state is higher when you receive long, convoluted explanations of emotional blathering rather than quick, Hemingwayesque prose. Clean, concise, and hiding valuable information underneath the surface. Along with mountains of empty liquor bottles.
I feel like my brain cannot stop working. One trivial thing followed by something actually useful intertwined with yet another impossibly stupid, small, incoherent thought. My lack of sleep is definitely adding a heavy weight of unreality to my every day. I cannot shut my mind off to certain things. Last night I finally managed to haul my ass upstairs to turn in for the night around 11:30 PM. To some, that may seem ridiculously early for a twenty-five year old. But for someone who has averaged four hours of unrestful sleep for approximately three weeks, I think it is safe to say that 11:30 is going to bed late. But that’s the thing. I didn’t go to bed. I put on my perfunctory television show (I cannot go to sleep without the television on, which is horrible because it is such a waste of electricity) and stared blankly at the screen, uncomprehending of the episode of How I Met Your Mother. Eventually I snapped out of the my zombie-like stare down and began paying attention. A few wispy thoughts crossed my mind: Josh Radnor is adorable and the character of Ted is one of the few well written leading male characters; Barney and subsequently Neil Patrick Harris, is by far one of the funniest and most colorful characters to grace television; Marshall and Lily are disgustingly adorable heaping on the perfect amount of “cute” couple hypotheticals with reality driven banter.
After these fleeting thoughts, I removed my glasses and desperately tried to toss and turn my way into oblivion. The clock read a time well past midnight and I was desperately fighting with the Sandman. My muscles were aching, my mind an odd combination between being far too awake without comprehension, my eyes were literally burning, and I desired nothing more than to pass off into nothingness; a dreamless sleep. Needless to say, my mind had different plans. At last glance, my clock read 1:43 AM. I turned one more time to my left side, desperately seeking sanctuary from waking life, and then the next thing I remember is jolting awake, breathing heavy.
After my startled return to consciousness, I tried a few more feeble attempts at sleep before giving up, grabbing my glasses and staring at the clock. It read 5:16 AM. I had a desperate desire to take my clock, open my window, and throw it through the screen while screaming in aggression as I watched it fly through the air. Rather I sat in bed somewhere between tying the beast down and holding back frustrated tears. You see, this is a relatively common occurrence, or has been for about three weeks since my mom went into the ER and landed on short-term disability. The last two weeks have been especially rough because I was without my father. and therefore all by myself in caring for my mother. Add into the recipe a week with two adorable, yet needy, puppies, and you have the perfect ingredients for a sleep deprived twenty-something who wants nothing more than curl up in the fetal position and hide under her favorite blanket, The Blue. (Yes, capital T, capital B, he is that special.)
What is especially disgusting about this episode is that I do not even feel like I slept. What jolted me awake was a dream I was having. Typically I do not remember my dreams unless they are particularly weird (I once dreamed I was a guest voice on The Simpsons, but the dream was entirely Simpsonesque, meaning I was a yellow, four-fingered, spiky haired version of myself voicing a yellow, four-fingered, spiky haired character) or frighteningly real (like the disturbing dream I had of my grandparents, who survived World War II, burning alive, which I woke up smelling burnt flesh). This dream guest starred a friend of mine who currently lives in Portland, another who lives in Milwaukee, and four other guys, one of which is my ex-fiance. My friend in Portland, though, in the dream said she was living in California, that she had seen Jonathan. She also mentioned that I “needed to get back out there.” My friend from Milwaukee informed me in a rather timid voice, and with tears in her eyes that a group of guys assaulted her, but she managed to run and get away, surprising her attackers. With this confession, she seemed lifeless and small compared to the concerned and bubbly personality that typically exudes from her. Somehow we found ourselves at an indoor soccer game and Jonathan is there, all the way from California. As are three more suitors, all of which are watching, not playing. Each of them, Jonathan included, make overtures, though with some, I am hesitant to even listen because there is an anger that resides in me towards these men.
Eventually both of my friends begin to ask why I am so distant. These guys are cute, they say, they appear gentlemen-like and exhibit a deep appreciation for me. I respond that no one is perfect, that everyone has a secret, and I am not sure I can handle having secrets in my life. I buried one so deep and for so long that I injured not only the man I loved, but scarred myself. There is a shadow on these men, and I can do nothing but see those shadows. Of course my girlfriends roll their eyes and call me too poetic for my own good. My friend from Portland stands up, walks to the guy she was rooting for and begins a dialogue, to which I blush, giggle, and turn away, feeling far too much like an adolescent than an adult. And what seems most odd is that rather than picking the guy most like her, someone who loves good food and outdoor activities, someone who appreciates art and music and lives in a community dedicated to these things, she decided to approach the guy who pours over video games, plays in a band, is completely unreliable and childish, but she saw made me smile.
My friend from Milwaukee then approaches a guy and begins a dialogue. I assumed she would approach Jonathan, having stated she loved us together. But rather she chooses another suitor, someone just as surprising. She picked the guy who reads literature and hovers over writing, integrating the English language and the beauty of words into his every day life, the guy who lives with artistic ambition and dwells in a place that makes him feel real, stimulated, appreciative of the chance to live the way he is. I blush red as a tomato as she talks to him. And I try to concentrate on my friend from Portland as she describes the favorable qualities of her choice. All the while I am staring at the other two men, wondering how complex and complicated things became. I feel an overriding sense of joy and relief when I look at one and sadness when I look at the other. However, the one that brings me joy brings a deadening blow of emotional and mental pain, while the sadness of the other is masked by positive memories, a certain hope and maybe hidden desire.
I stand up, look at each guy, drinking in their features, swimming in the feelings they evoke, and I make up my mind. I begin walking towards the one. And I jolt awake. And what bothers me is not my decision. It is the fact that as soon as I awoke, for the life of me I cannot remember where my subconscious settled. With the reality of waking life, I know my feelings, I am slowly beginning to understand them and work with them. They are malleable, while at the same time maintaining a rigidity making them impossible to swiftly change.
Yesterday in one of my photography posts, there was a picture of hearts hanging on a wall. My mom made them when I was a freshman in college and sent them as a gift to decorate an otherwise unremarkable dorm room. I still have them to this day, and refuse to rid myself of them. I feel like my emotional canvas is much like those hearts: roughly hewn, a patchwork of color and lace, and dangling from long strings hoping never to fall abruptly. I hold on to them not only because of the kinship I feel, but also because in their simplicity they are the single most beautiful thing in my room.
Since becoming single I have had a litany of commentary on my casing. For years I questioned my beauty, always alternating between believing I was a plain Jane and maybe just pretty. I once mentioned on here that to me the highest compliment is being called beautiful. Though I take pride in being called “hot” (there is a certain confidence boost knowing that others find you attractive), I miss hearing and feeling confident in the knowledge that my mind and my beliefs and my thoughts are also as stimulating. That was one thing that Jonathan, when we began dating, excelled at. He made me feel his equal. By the end, however, I felt like he thought I was dumb compared to his contemporaries, all of which were PhD candidates and fiercely more intelligent in his scientific plane. I was an English major with no job who wanted nothing more than to write for a living; someone who can wax on about the enigmatic wit and subversive commentary of Jane Austen, but could not carry on a meaningful conversation about the giant garter snake of the Central Valley. It already felt like a tear in the seam of our relationship had begun, and when we moved to California, thanks to my immaturity and inability to handle these thoughts and emotions, a gulf passed between us.
Despite settling into a comfortable recognition of these feelings, I have a deep curiosity about where my subconscious fell. What choice could have jolted me awake?