Imagine if sleep depended on never, ever hurting someone you love. Imagine all the unfortunate, crossed wires that would result in a thousand winkless nights – you, for example, thinking your girl just said ‘let’s bathe in gravy!’, make obvious and appropriate gagging sounds – not understanding that what she actually said was, ‘let’s have a baby!’ and now she’s at her mother’s and won’t talk to you and try and try as you might, you just can’t fall asleep… And that’s just the accidental, little injuries. What about letting your parents believe you want to be a lawyer, just like them – when late at night, in that dark temple where no sleep will find you, your body bends and aches to become a dancer. What about when you get drunk and call your ex-boyfriend at 3 in the morning from your husband’s phone, sending topless photos to his entire phone book at 3:21 am, and drunk as you are, as delirious and ready to pass out, you just…can’t. Sleep won’t come. We all hurt someone, sometimes. And just that quickly, that incidentally, you become one of the sleepless. Walking dead. Life as zombie. Half-asleep in sin-pajamas.
Nearly all of us are in love with shadows, anyway. People who are almost, but not quite, who we want them to be. We do this innocently. But soon, even small details, that you chew ice or rob banks or tailgate in traffic, can blast away someone’s illusions of us – making everyone ashamed that we could be so foolish, ashamed that we could love someone like that, shattering everything. There are also moments where we become shadows ourselves, when how much we hide from our loved ones begins to swallow up how much is real. It seems less hurtful that way, and, out of kindness, out of a warped sense of compassion, out of selfishness, we let them believe what they want to believe. They go to dinner with their picture of you, take holidays with it, hugging with its paper tips folded neat around their shoulders; never accepting that they are sleeping tight and curled around a you that only exists in their mind. And so the real you lies wide awake at night, afraid of hurting them even more, eyes arid and bloodshot, stiffened with exhaustion and grunting that hey, yes, you. slept. just. fine. Better that than risk letting them see just how very human you are. How very breakable. Until, of course, one day comes when you just can’t anymore and you let slip all those things you could never quite bring yourself to say; how you’ve been thinking about leaving, how there are secrets you’ve been keeping, how you haven’t slept in months, how you haven’t slept in years, and then. And, then.
How hard we fall is directly related to how perfectly someone else is creating us in their mind; just how vividly they imagine us never failing, never kissing someone else, never quitting a job, never making mistakes.
The crash is not very pretty. In tiny handfuls, everywhere the sleepless wander, bodies begin to talk, and fall. As the sleepless yank at their hair, wailing about betrayal and loss, some just unabashedly, spontaneously, start being honest with one another - this is who i am, here is what i think, and slipping down into soft grasses, wet alleyways, pub chairs – fast, fast, fast asleep. Glorious snores sing up to the night sky in a cacophony of shameless worship as the unsleeping all gather round to watch, shotguns and divorce papers trembling in hand. It was never someone else’s forgiveness that sleep was waiting for all this time, but our own. Your very own pardon: a slow dance, spelling out dreams only the moon can see.
mp3: the morning clouds – ends
This song literally had me sleepless last night. Get it and the rest of the Wasted Youth Blues EP, here:
posted by rikki.