Some mornings I wake up to pain. Of stretchy ligaments pressed too long in one position. Achey ribs, bent ankles and wrists. And cortisol pangs that cause muscles to contract. Those mornings are sudden awakenings that tip over into consciousness as dreams get more intense. The noise outside my window is so abrasive that I reach for my phone in utter panic to turn on NPR for its palliative effect.
Some mornings are full of grace. This morning was one of them. I don’t know what caused the grace because so much was different.
I woke up similarly yesterday happy but quickly became enveloped in anxiety and resentment at people who definitely aren’t thinking of me, and I shouldn’t be giving them any thought. Those days are rare now. They usually come with hormonal fluctuations that cloud reason and act as a wedge to hold the door open for all negativity to flood in. The negativity is warranted. I don’t get annoyed or angry at people unless they’ve really done something awful. I usually just don’t practice resentment on a daily basis.
But today, I woke up before I even woke up and began dictating my dream to myself to remember it because of how it felt. It felt like peace.
I dreamed that I took a drive in Tucson to my old neighborhood on Prince to see what had become of my garden that I spent so many hours tending to. But instead, I ran into a man. He doesn’t exist in real life to my knowledge.
He was a dentist. Of melancholic and a bit stoic disposition making his age hard to pinpoint, but I assume he was a contemporary. Jewish. Short, straight black hair. Accent…I think Israeli. But not any Israeli I’ve ever known. Think a young Leonard Nemoy. But better looking.
The condominium association was in an uproar and people were campaigning furiously for positions on the Board. It didn’t bother me because I had no skin in the game. It made him sad and nostalgic. He said he missed the old days when I’d lived there. He was about to reveal more…about feelings that felt overwhelming to me but welcome at the same time…when another former neighbor, a woman, showed up.
That was it. My body wasn’t ready to move but my brain did its automatic daily check. What position are you in? Are you in pain? What do you need? What can you tell about this day before even opening your eyes? This last question is an awareness of acoustic input that tells me the time of day, the temperature, whether the sky is overcast or not, whether it is raining, what time of year it is. Days have sonic fingerprints.
I was on my back. My hands in their usual places: palms against my hip bones with fingers tucked into the waistband of my underwear. No pain. But also, no street sounds. I wasn’t processing audio input yet. Fine, I didn’t push it. No need.
My eyes remained closed. I didn’t reach for my phone. When it rang, alerting me to a text, I didn’t feel the cortisol. I knew the text had to be from Fresh Direct alerting me to my grocery delivery today.
When I was ready, I opened my eyes, saw my fuchsia headboard, and remembered sleeping with my head at the foot of the bed. It’s a trick I taught myself a couple years ago to combat insomnia. After decades of worrying about not being able to fall asleep, and therefore setting the expectation that I wouldn’t, I just started sleeping with my head where my feet should be as a counter spell to restless nights. It works for a few nights before it also becomes too routine.
What caused the grace? The peace? I don’t know. But it happened two mornings in a row. So let’s discuss the other factors besides upside down sleeping:
1. Light but significant blanket that doesn’t put too much weight on my joints. Usually I need to feel weight on me to sleep. I can’t sleep just under a sheet. But weighted blankets end up contorting my body and stretching out ligaments.
2. Scarf used to cover light that was also the right weight.
3. I fell asleep both nights listening to Anthony Bourdain’s show on Netflix…always pleasing.
4. I slept on my heating blanket, which means I can use a lighter blanket on top. The heating blanket under me a. feels like a hug; b. keeps me from moving at night; and c. makes it so my body sends fewer signals to my brain. It’s probably a fraction of what floating in a sensory deprivation tank feels like.
5. I got my second vaccine yesterday and went to sleep with the beginnings of aches. But I don’t have them now, with the exception of soreness at the injection site.
6. I talked to Celia about things the past two days that were practically helpful and other things that were spiritually helpful. This might be the biggest non-physical factor.
7. There was an inordinate amount of anxiety driven stimming yesterday. I don’t usually do it in public or around other people. And when I do I can hide it pretty well (masking). But not yesterday. I was doing it on a street corner. I came home and swung my arms around for about half an hour to get out the nervous energy.
8. I talked to all the important people in my life via text or phone.
9. I got two good leads on jobs.
10. I got my taxes started.
11. I got some groceries delivered.
12. I felt loved.
13. I didn’t engage in FB or Instagram viewing. Just posting my own things. I derive way more pleasure posting than engaging in others’ content. Not out of arrogance, but because I’d rather contribute than passively watch what other people think is relevant.
14. So we don’t end on 13, I saw 12:34 on the clock. I’ve stopped notating them on FB. Maddie saw it too and texted me. 12:34 is my lucky time.
So yeah, it was a nice way to wake up. I’m really curious as to who the person was in my dream. I don’t usually dream about people whom I don’t already know. Maybe he was an amalgam. But I can’t be sure. What I do know is the sense of calm and grounding I felt from him and a door opening to more.