We're going through a pretty bad patch right now, sleep-wise, that is. I can't even imagine how I survived all those years of having to get up and go to work in the morning. Now that I'm at home all the time it's much easier. But it's still hard: Oliver doesn't function well, I get dramatically -- dramatically -- pessimistic, none of us has any patience with the other and it feels like we are just putting in time until we can hit the hay again with hopes of a better night. We're leaving for Switzerland next week and that ought to cheer me up, except that I am reminded of the last time when Oliver only slept two full nights over the course of three weeks. I'm trying not to jinx myself by thinking this way, but if any one has ideas on how to ward off evil sleep spirits -- I'm willing to do just about anything at this point. Unless it involves chickens.
I just finished taking care of my neighbor's chickens for a week and I think I'll take my clean brown eggs from the neat container in the refrigerated section of the supermarket from now on thank you very much. For one thing, I don't have the right kind of shoes. For another, well, that shoe thing really just about says it all in my opinion.
And speaking of animals, will someone please, please tell me that it is not a very good idea -- that in fact it is a very big mistake that I will regret for years to come -- for us to adopt a dog for Oliver? Blame it on my lack-of-sleep addled brain, but somehow I got it into my head that it would be fun to start visiting the SPCA with the kids. On our very first visit I fell in love with a five month old beagle/heeler mix and spent more than an hour playing with him in a big field where he chased after both my kids and they fell down and rolled around with delight as he tackled them and licked them like my boys go after those coveted lime Popsicles. My idea was that we would just go in there, pet the animals and go home. But something about seeing Oliver laugh and play and run with this dog opened a little door in my brain. Each time we leave there I think: no! We are not getting a dog. But somehow we keep heading back there and each time I check to see if the little guy has been adopted yet and when he isn't I feel slightly relieved. That's a bad sign, right?
But isn't dog ownership for people with fewer responsibilities? Take the students who live in group houses directly across the street and to the left of us, for instance. They have dogs. And in the evenings when the kids are asleep and I'm at the computer I've taken to watching them as dusk approaches. From this house and that, they mix and mingle on the porches and sidewalks. They hold beer bottles by the neck and their cigarettes glow like fireflies. They laugh deeply in a way that's both familiar and forgotten to me. The sound of car doors punctuate the night long after I've shut down my computer and closed my books.
Other neighbors are annoyed by the presence of the students and at times I have been, too. But this summer I am grateful because they have stirred in me a really sweet sense of nostalgia for a time when I was more like them. For a time when summer nights were just wide open to possibilities and when I put off sleeping for another hour and then just another hour just because I could.
I'm happy with this life but I'm also happy to be reminded of how full and rich my life has already been. So I wonder: when I'm really old (as opposed to now when I just FEEL really old) and I look back on another time of little sleep but lots of learning and growing, what will I be nostalgic for? Whatever it is, I hope I'm appreciating it now in a way that I never did those summer nights twenty years ago.