Writing Through Insomnia
August 28, 2020 § 40 Comments
By Dana Laquidara
Another night like this, suddenly wide awake. I don’t exactly feel panicked, my heart is not racing, but I am on high alert. What I am waiting for, I am not sure.
I’ve done all the things: no coffee after 10 am. No wine. No electronics in the bedroom. Exercise. Meditation even. Yet most nights it is the same. I can predict before opening my eyes that the clock will read 1:30 am. Sometimes 1:20.
My husband reaches out and touches my leg. He is letting me know he is awake now too. Was I tossing and turning? A middle of the night rendezvous; I resist the urge to speak. He will fall back asleep and there is nothing specific to say, to be anxious about. Well there is, actually. I mean the whole world is anxious now. Shouldn’t it be? I run through my list: Who shall I focus on this night? Family? The country? Humanity?
I do my yogic breathing. I decide not to waste this time on trying to assign a subject to my insomnia. Instead I grab a pillow and I go downstairs and settle on the couch with my notebook. I may as well write something. Nothing will interrupt me at this hour, nothing outside my own head. The world is asleep, even as it is falling apart.
Not even my to-do list is calling me now. Phone calls to make, writing deadlines, laundry. Those are the affairs of daylight and I won’t engage such thoughts. I’ve been invited, against my wishes, but I’m here nonetheless, to do whatever I want in this dark hour. I figure something will happen if I put pen to paper, something to loosen this grip around my heart that is alerting me to I’m not sure what. I am ready, ready for whatever is going to happen, even if it is only on the page.
The windows are shut down here and I’m too tired to get up and open them, too busy writing. I am hot as hell now. My hair is getting long—I am not yet ready to venture into a hair salon, even with all the precautions in place. I’ve been snipping the ends of my unruly hair, one curl at a time, with the professional scissors I bought online. I’m due for another quarantine haircut. I pull my hair up on top of my head with the elastic around my wrist.
I’m so hot and so tired, I’m starting to feel nauseous. Tomorrow—which is today, technically—I will see what I’ve written, and if there’s anything worth saving.
I hear my husband upstairs, stirring. He is in the cool air-conditioned room and all of it is suddenly calling me now—the cool room, the soft bed, the husband.
I put down my pen and notebook and leave them on the couch next to the pillow. I will be back tomorrow night, same time, same place.
Dana Laquidara is a writer living in Massachusetts. Her work has earned awards in The Writer’s Digest, The Creative Well and at a Boston Moth live story-telling event.