i’ll put them to bed, but they won’t sleep.

I jump to my feet.

There is no way I’m going to allow myself to have a shitty weekend. We drove hours to get here. This can only be better than an evening spent at the fucking Rainbo, sucking down too-strong drinks and making quasi-meaningful conversation with semi-strangers. And I actually have an opportunity to wake up in the morning free of self-hatred and regret.

I turn on music and get to work in the kitchen. There are groceries to put away and sandwiches to make.

I feign the highest level of enthusiasm. The part of “Lighthearted Girl on a Weekend Getaway” calls for singing silly songs and telling awful jokes. For extra credibility, add giggling and impromptu dancing. A sprinkling of “when I was a kid” stories. Perhaps a few hilarious attempts at rapping. And endless smiling. Even the slightest down turned corner of the mouth will lose the audience.

I am such a skilled actress; I convince myself that I am actually having a good time. Happiness spreads a lot faster than misery–surprisingly–so soon Ryan is smiling and laughing.

The rest of the night is fun. We follow avocado sandwiches with several rounds of Go Fish (because neither of us can remember the rules to any other card games). Everything bad from the last few months never happened. It feels like the first few weeks of our acquaintance, when no one made me happier than Ryan. All of the words I thought I could never forget slip out of my ears and scurry away. Our clothes disappear before we reach the bedroom. My mind is awash in a wave of “everything is going to be okay….no, better than okay…GREAT!”

Later, when I am lying with my head on Ryan’s chest smiling and sighing, I realize that he is already asleep. Usually I’m the one that falls into a virtual coma about 15 seconds after we’ve separated our bodies. Meanwhile, Ryan will try to keep me awake with questions like, “Do you think Stevie Wonder ever feels lonely? What about Prince?” I will muster the energy to pretend I’m giving insightful answers, but a majority of my brain is already dreaming about oceans and antigravity.

Not tonight. I’m wide awake. And he is out.

I close my eyes and take deep breaths. Inhale. Exhaaaale.

Did I mail the check for the phone bill? Yes. Did I put a stamp on the envelope? I can’t actually remember doing it, but maybe it was just a speck on my memory…too insignificant and typical to distinctly record. But what if I didn’t? If the phone gets turned–

I flip over onto my stomach, imagining I’m floating in a warm pool of water.

Did I leave enough cat food for Stella? Will Nate run out and get some if it isn’t enough? I mean, of course he will because he’s a good guy…but will he be annoyed with me? I know living with me can be hard sometimes because I can be completely–

I shift to my left side. Yes, this seems better.

Was Ryan high at dinner? Did he bring drugs without telling me? Wouldn’t that essentially be the same as LYING to me? What the fuck? Why does he think it’s okay to lie to me?

Should I go through his bag?

I should check his bag.

No. No. No.

That’s a scene from a script entitled “Psycho Girlfriend and Her Absolute Disregard for Privacy.”  No one will attend the auditions for  the starring role.

My scalp hurts.   I realize I’m literally pulling my hair out over this.

I get out of bed. I’m not going to sleep right now.

I take a long bath. The water is so hot , I’m sweating. I read magazines until every last bit of energy has left my body.

Back to bed. I fall into unconsciousness immediately. I dream that my mom tells me I have to go back to high school until I can learn to behave like a responsible adult. Apparently an anonymous Chicagoan placed an informative long distance phone call to her. She has been filled in on all of my shenanigans.

I think school will be easy, but I do stupid stuff like smoke cigarettes and lose my pencils. I have trouble sitting still. I forget the combination to my locker.

In the midst of all of this, I swear I can hear Ryan shuffling around the house, opening and closing doors. His shoes squeak on the wooden floors. But wait–no, I’m here in Mrs. Kershaw’s calculus class and Steve Wiley is breaking the clips off of all of my mechanical pencils. I’m too old for this place and everyone knows it.


One thought on “i’ll put them to bed, but they won’t sleep.

  1. Paige says:

    Oh, I’ve had that dream. I’ve had that dream. And I’ve had that dream.

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