In The Middle of The Night

I couldn’t sleep last night, and this could be for any numbers of reasons with the top one being: I have shit to do. It’s important to note that I’m on vacation, but when you’re a writer (or a person cursed with a desire to be always observing, absorbing, interpreting, dissecting) there’s no such thing as being totally “on vacation.”

Trust me: I relax. I meditate, do yoga, run, talk to my dog, read, crack up with friends, etc., and my dial does have a low setting but it never goes entirely off. It hums even at rest. This is irritating at times for me and often for my friends. I pay such close attention that I can be exhausting to be around. That’s a fact, but this blog post isn’t intended to be an exploration of all that’s amok with my internal structure, but rather to talk about what happens in the middle of the night when sleep is not one pillow flip away.

I tried for a while to deep breathe myself to sleep, but this method is only about 30% successful for me. I drank water. I peed. I straightened the covers. Then I turned to the thing we’re definitely not supposed to do and shouldn’t even have on our nightstands: I lit up my iPhone.

This is my typical “I can’t sleep” routine. I play Words With Friends if I have any games stacked up. I check email. And then ultimately I turn to Facebook, the real sleep killer. Last night’s/this morning’s Facebook feed was full of great stuff. First I read a sad National Geographic article about how dark it’s getting in North Korea and why. There was a satellite image to accompany the article and it stunned me wide awake. It wasn’t even a long article, but full of current and historical information that made me realize how goddamn lucky I am. We are, all of us, extraordinarily lucky.

Then I watched a friend’s video of Ethiopian dancing and I thought of that friend who I’ve known for over twenty years now and the good work he’s doing in Africa. I thought about how lucky I am to know so many fine people and how even though I don’t regularly see a fraction of the folks I love, we’re able to stay technologically connected to one another and this is so much better than nothing. We can all knock the crap out of Facebook and Twitter and egregious selfies, but I’ll be honest here: I really like it.

For some reason the Ethiopian dancing made me think of the evolution of dance, and that led to me cracking up alone over Jimmy Fallon and Will Smith’s “The Evolution of Hip Hop” skit from Fallon’s first night hosting The Tonight Show. I did not started thinking about evolution (it was approximately 4:00 am, people), but I did toggle over to YouTube to watch Judson Laipply’s “Evolution of Dance” video and all I could think was: how can I get a date with this guy?

The past month (not even a full thirty consecutive days) have been spring-loaded with boyfriends past. Not the ghosts of them: the real deal. I’ve had conversations, interactions and time-suspended lunches that have stretched my already over-thinking brain and over-feeling heart to mega proportion. It’s been consistently more than I’ve thought I could handle, and then the universe hands me another one, and each feels like a simultaneous punch and kiss.

I went to the gym yesterday at the really nice club here in Florida, and while I worked out on a machine that threatened to launch me like a cat on a treadmill I watched Dr. Wayne Dyer talk about his new book I Can See Clearly Now, and I was (literally) holding on for dear life (nice metaphor) when I heard him say, “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” I guess I’m ready, because ready or not here they are.

Last night I had a unique opportunity to spend an evening with two of my ex-boyfriends at one dinner table. One is from college who, up until last spring, I hadn’t seen in almost twenty years, and the other from the not too distant past. The latter had his wife with him and a couple of their good friends. I think a few years ago (hell, last year) I might’ve felt incredibly anxious about such an interaction. I used to worry far too much what people think of me, and I’m beyond grateful to have shed that unnecessary skin. It was exhausting.

It was fun. We talked, laughed, everyone got along. At the end of the night I exchanged information with people who’d been strangers a few hours earlier. (One of my favorite things ever.) Sure it made me think about where I’ve been and where I’ve been-been, but it didn’t really make me think so much about where I’m going. More than ever, as I cruise the home stretch toward forty: I’m really fucking happy in the moment, this moment, this one second that is all I have to really worry about. Will I take another breath? Yes. Oh good. Proceed as usual. This is a new skin, much softer and less armor-like than the last, and while I’m still adjusting to the fit it isn’t something I’m interested in sending to the Goodwill. Like ever.

But the moments of not sleeping when you desperately want to be are uncomfortable, and so what’s a girl to do but watch Oscar acceptance speeches and weep? Jared? Lupita? OMG. These people give me so much hope. The grace and eloquence with which they spoke last night was enough to get me upright and writing.

Leto said: “You have an opportunity when you stand on this stage. You can make it all about yourself, or you can hold up a mirror and shine a light.” He told a beautiful story about his mother, who he brought as his date, and he didn’t make his speech political so much as he made it global. In addition to a huge heart, he also seems to have an excellent sense of humor, and to say he’s easy on the eyes has to be one of the bigger time understatements ever. (Apparently he’s dating June Squib so I won’t even ask…)

And while I’m on the subject of crushes: Lupita. The second line of Lupita Nyong’o’s acceptance speech drilled me, “It doesn’t escape me for one moment that so much joy in my life is due to so much pain in someone else’s.” Wow. Her authenticity and gratitude are nearly palpable, and the best part: they’re available to every one of us.

Another thing available to all of us even when sleep isn’t: dreaming. Both Jared and Lupita spoke of dreaming, and I love their words:

“When I look down at this golden statue, may it remind me and every child, no matter where you’re from, your dreams are valid.” (Lupita)

“To all the dreamers out there around the world watching this tonight, in places like the Ukraine and Venezuela, I want to say we are here, and as you struggle to make your dreams happen, to live the impossible, we’re thinking of you tonight.” (Jared)

I believe in dreams and also in silver linings. They’re sometimes hidden in the relationship that didn’t work out or the people we don’t talk to but should. They’re even in the fact that I missed a good night’s sleep but was rewarded with watching the sun rise over The Everglades. I took it through a screen, but you get the idea. Good Morning, Friends.

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