Friday, September 7, 2012

Midnight Mystery and Miracle

I've been sick the last couple of days. Some sort of stomach virus passed through (pun intended). This included a fever of 101 at one point, a discussion of West Nile virus and its symptoms on Facebook (diarrhea not included on the CDC website, so I felt in the clear), and a LOT of sleep. My cat, for whom I'm simply a big (and willing) hot water bottle anyway, loved it.

The fever has broken (like the first fever) and I'm on the mend except my stomach is still a little not quite back to normal and . . .well, I slept a lot. I still feel tired or maybe just a little weak, but I'm not sleepy.

I tried going to bed this evening. I read a book that I had been enjoying and ended up finishing it after two hours. It disappointed me a little bit, especially in that it seemed to become a different novel about halfway through, but in general, it held my interest to the end. I put it on top of the scary and precarious pile on the nightstand next to my bed (how I've never been killed by a book avalanche is a mystery), turned out the light and lay on my side with my cat against my stomach.

And I couldn't fall asleep.

The cat repositioned himself to the crook of my ankles as I noticed my ear was pressed against my arm just right so that I could hear my blood rushing through my veins. It sounded much like the sound when I go to get my EKG. I marvel at this sound that signals life in this body and I marvel that it can stop, practically without notice. Or with trauma. Or for whatever whenever. Mortality thoughts.

Yes, this is what the midnight hour, a bad stomach, and an inability to sleep begets.

And I start wondering if there is any good reason why I get to sleep in this bed, mortally threatened by an eclectic library, my feet warmed by a miniature predator. I start wondering why I'm not on the street, sleeping with the crowd down on Preston near Minute Maid Park. I start wondering why I'm not sleeping in a big country house surrounded by woods and the sounds of whippoorwills.

I wonder why I'm not sleeping.

Being sick, having a snuggly if opportunistic cat to warm my feet, having some amount of discontent, having some amount of success and forward movement . . . all in one week . . . so I lay in bed, thinking thinking thinking why why why.

And why not.

"The frightening thing is not dying. The frightening thing is not living." (T-Bone Bunett)

"And you may ask yourself, well, how did I get here?" (Talking Heads)

"You know, it never has been easy, whether you do or you do not resign. Whether you travel the breadth of extremity or stick to some straighter line." (Joni Mitchell)

I was hoping a destination would reveal itself if just started typing, but I end up quoting songs. Which is a sort of destination, I guess.

My blessings are my own---not everyone could bear them. My curses, likewise.

As I look at the clock in the lower corner of my computer screen, I see it's 1:44am. My stomach is gassy and uncomfortable. I'm middle-aged and sleep with a cat in a narrow bed. If I lay the right way I can hear the blood rushing through my veins. I have oodles of books, all of which I love, even the ones I didn't like. I've never spent a night of my life outdoors.

It's all mystery and miracle and sometimes when I have too much sleep, if I'm not exhausted, these things will keep me awake, even if I'm feeling tired or maybe just a little weak.

There's my destination. It's all mystery and miracle.

And to all, a good night. Or good morning, as the case may be.

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