01 October 2006

A comment on sleep

originally posted on myspace.com/baansawan


We had a couple of busy nights this week. Even after all these years there's little that can fill me with anxiety like the sight of a car's lights as it enters the driveway while the doors are clogged with people waiting for tables and the bar and tables themselves filled with customers, most of whom arrived at the same time and therefore ordered at the same time (which further means they'll all leave at roughly the same time allowing for a fairly even rinse and repeat.) These basics of restaurant logistics ("the bottleneck" is the most polite term that comes to mind) are a fact of this life but, like the South Carolina heat, seemingly impossible to become used to. Perhaps a better oiled machine could better roll with the punches but I'm busy enough as it is mixing metaphors.
Everyone may have left the restaurant and I may be finishing a glass of wine in the dark emptiness save for the soft illumination of the bar's interior lights but the mind still knows I'm at work. There's a finality to turning on the alarm and trotting down the stairs but it's the feel of my car as I accelerate, firmly yet cautiously, from the driveway and out on to Lee street that begins to soothe me. It's like that last block in a road race.
Usually, if it was a particularly busy night, that means I'm not getting out of there until almost 12 so Leigh is most likely asleep when I walk into the bedroom. The light is probably on and her book is open in front of her and that spot next to her that I can't wait to occupy usually has at least one cat in it. I get ready for bed and, as I don't have the energy to snap the covers taut to send whichever cats happens to be there straight up into the air where I can catch and relocate them, I generally push gently until they decide to leave.
It's the soft give of the mattress combined with the whisper of the covers as I draw them up that is very satisfying. The lights are off and my eyes don't have to work anymore so they close and a tension recedes from that area. I experiment with a variety of positions to see which would best foster a comfortable drifting off and, when I decide on one, I stretch mightily before settling fully into it. At least one pop from a random joint will sound from this action which also yields the first of at least two deep sighs -- my body's bell ringing announcing the "All's well." The second sigh is usually after I'm settled into my spot and I've rubbed my tired eyes against the softness of my pillow. My mind drifts along high and low points of the day and I try to banish these thoughts in favor of getting a dream started right. I imagine tableaux and sounds and smells and tastes. I try to remember the flavor profiles of different grape varieties. I imagine where I could take the characters of whatever I might be writing. Banter. Images of mountain tops surfacing from a thick fog. An interesting camera angle. Ceiling fan blades slowly rotating over a wicker chair filled porch. Ferns dripping from hanging baskets. I start noticing, from time to time, that I'm waking up a little bit. A sushi chef turning a piece of salmon by a matter of degrees before slicing. The smell of the sea. The smell of Fino Sherry. Sea spray and sherry glasses and little stir-fried baby eels and Hemingway putting a heavy, meaty hand on my shoulder, telling me he'll get this round if I drive him to Segovia for dinner. And, eventually, I'm asleep.
Then, more often than not, I'm immediately back at work. My dreams almost never favoring me with a remarkable, fantasy work scenario with special celebrity guest stars but, rather, I'm given another six or seven hours of trying to move tables together for a large party or explaining to somebody why we can't do something.
And my mother wonders why I rarely look rested.

No comments: