It’s a small mercy when the sleepless nights are truly sleepless. Anything is better than jolting awake to a day that’s bright and cheery when you had slept only a mere minutes or hour before. The eyes remain itchy, the sinus pressure intense and the need to sleep constant. My insomnia returned this year [babbling like an idiot], delayed, just like the past few years we have lived in India. Or perhaps I could no longer mark the hazy beginnings, since the seasonal dissociative disorder had blanketed itself around me, settling into a year long, life long shroud of meh. The insomnia, for me at least, once was the first hint that something was amiss.
I started waking up early after a bad case of jet lag that never went away. I would be the first one awake at sleepovers, any party that turned into an overnight, rattling around trying to find something to read or do before I gave up and woke someone up. .If we were sleeping at friends’ houses I made sure to ask where all the stuffs were to feed my dangerous tea habit. There’s nothing I can say about the early morning that hasn’t been snatched up by cliché, but I can say, it’s all true. That last hour of quiet before the sun and, birds and flowers, children running down the cul-de-sac, and whirr of lawnmowers take over, that bated breath, the moment before the final push, just before you rip off that band aid everything that could be, and then you exhale. Waking up so early and exercising half the day ensured that I would sleep into a coma like slumber that evening. This is partially why I used to do it. To shut the brain off. My routine then was institutional, like clockwork, nothing ever happened that wasn’t on schedule.
All the exercise and keeping busy couldn’t keep the edges from getting grey. Eventually a silent unease swept through the house and it would stay, like the cheery annuals planted in the front of the house, a heavy shroud weighing me down. The year before we moved to Bombay, I was extraordinarily obsessed with my calorie intake, expenditure, had charts neatly organized in small stapled booklet in Martha Stewart’s Cake Bible. I would make four or four I would obsess over each cheerio ingested, rewarding myself with a few extra if I had not eaten the night before. When your early mornings give way to grey, and grey the day after and grey inside even when it’s sunny outside, when the people you deemed unfriendly are the ones to shine a, “Good Morning”, you make your way through them, rushing past, disgruntled, angry, sad and so very lonely.
This is before we acquired the great unruly creatures who let us pick up after them. All utter fosture failures. The latest addition a cantankerous creature who had spent a large part of her little life in a cage. Phoebe and Tail Lung (the cats) of course, put up with the presence of my doggos and the little humans with great personal dignity (their own) and dissatisfaction at our lack of fur and hunting prowess. The animals save me everyday. Their complete love, the cats give this in inspired and rare packets, and dependence on me makes me get up day after day, and stick to my institutional schedule of walking and feeding and washing and romping!
Right now my little puppers and meows are still in Bombay. The astonishing and bitter cold had left me wondering if I would be able to continue the schedule of walking that I had in the land of perpetual summer. This, very frigid morning in Delaware, my niece’s gorgeous little puppy was taken out for her walk by her grand aunt (c’est moi!)
I spent fiver years in Bombay, and right up until the time I left, people marveled at my ability to wake, dress and be ready for the day that begins at 4:30 am, I wanted to tell them, (despite knowing I secretly do it for the glory of a quiet morning thinking about the horrid inequities that exist in both of the countries I call home) .. hey thanks but it’s just jetlag.