To make a prairie it takes a clover and one bee, One clover, and a bee, And revery.
The revery alone will do, If bees are few.
--Emily Dickinson

Friday, April 29, 2011

The difficulties of being an aging night owl

I have always been a person who functioned better in the evening than during the day. That first, beautiful ray of sunlight that peeks over the horizon at dawn? Never see it, unless in my youth, when I had been out all night. Then I saw it through bleary eyes as I was falling face down onto my bed. I love the quiet and stillness that the nighttime brings. The children are asleep, as are most of my elderly neighbors and I'm left in glorious solitude.
It's possible for me to function on five or six hours of sleep. My dear husband requires at least 8 hours. My children need 12. Left to my own devices, I will stay up until 2 a.m. and sleep in 'til 11. But we're never left to our own devices are we?
Most of the world insists on keeping to a day timers schedule. Schools. Doctor's offices. The people who come to work at your house. Everyone assumes that you're a morning person. Except that when everyone else is winding down, I'm starting to wind up. According to the schemes of the world, I'm supposed to be bright eyed and bushy tailed after having eaten a healthy breakfast and exercised at the gym and showered. And I'm supposed to have done all this by 7 a.m.
And then there's the children. Those tiny human beings who spring from their beds and are ready to face the day. They decide that you should face the day at the exact same time, no matter that your aging body, dehydrated from the amount of Diet Mountain Dew you guzzled the night before, is screaming at you to stay in bed.
Therein lies the real issue: being an aging night owl.
I can honestly say that I crave the energy I had in my 20s to be melded with the wisdom and life I've gained in my 30s. Because in order to keep up with the daily demands of the day timers and get any of my precious nighttime solitude, I must consume large quantities of caffeine. Like some heroin addict, I need more and more of the stuff to keep going and reach the wakefulness that one can used to bring me. Twelve ounces of Diet Mountain Dew simply doesn't do it for me anymore. Now it takes two or three cans or perhaps a pot of coffee, a fact I keep from my urologist so as not to alarm him.
Where will it end? By my 40s, I very well could be hitting up convenience stores and stockpiling energy drinks. Although my older girlfriends tell me to enjoy the sleep that I do get, because someday hormonal changes will bewitch my body and sleep will come not at all. Perhaps then I'll replace my Diet Mountain Dew with a few cups of chamomile tea.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Just Playin' in the Rain

The world was a gray, drippy place until two six-year-olds decided to don their girly, pink rubber boots and stomp in puddles. Their laughter echoed through the neighborhood as they took turns running up and down the sidewalk, finding the biggest puddles. Nothing puts a smile on your face like watching 6-year-olds play in the rain. They don't worry about whether their socks get wet. They're not concerned with the state of their hair. They don't think about who might be watching.They just live in the excitement of the moment. That moment when their rubber boots connect with a puddle and they see how high they can make the water go.

I recall a summer when I was about their age. One of my favorite things to do was to walk into the middle of the road and pop tar bubbles with my bare toes. I didn't live on a busy street. In the small town where I grew up the roads were paved with a asphalt concoction that bubbled when it got especially hot, as it did that summer. I still remember how it felt standing in that road, the heat searing through my mosquito bite-covered legs and popping those bubbles. The particular squish as my big toe pressed down and how black the bottoms of my feet were afterwards. It was an addictive activity, like wringing plastic bubble wrap.

It's been a long time since I thought about popping tar bubbles. That lost memory didn't occur to me until Rose and Emma decided to play in the rain. Only six-year-olds would look at a dreary, water-logged landscape and see opportunity. Only a Kindergartner could appreciate the feeling of popping sticky, warm ooze with their bare skin. Adults so often worry about their to-do lists and tomorrows that they don't spend enough time inhaling the opportunities of today.

When I called Rose and Emma inside, they were soaked, mud-covered and breathless. And I was just a little bit envious.