Tuesday, December 11, 2007

"Asleep in a Strange Bed" - Los Angeles, CA

I am in a hotel room in a bed in the morning — half awake, half asleep. It is another strange city like all cities, but a city that I like, a city that I know. The light filtering through the curtains that are not quite dense enough is nagging me awake. I have aged to be like my mother – I can only sleep in complete darkness. I remember when I was small thinking, I will never need complete darkness like you. But I have become like her. I pull the covers over my head and go back to sleep. I dream:

I am in a mini bus with my mother and father and other family members. The bus is like something at the Sundance Film Festival. We are taking a long circuitous route to get where we are going. Somehow, because of me, we are all late to a screening. I have not given directions. I do not want to get off the bus.

There is the noise of strangers walking outside my hotel door and I drift towards consciousness. I should get up, but I don’t want to. I turn over again and pull the covers over my eyes. The word “cling” – comes up to my mind – I am clinging to my bed and I like it. It must be late but there is no clock near. I should get up. I don’t. I fall back asleep.

I am in an airport. I am sitting on a plastic chair. I will miss or have missed, or want to miss the next step. I don’t want to get up. I could be anyplace. I don’t care. Someone wants me to move, my boyfriend, but I don’t know why. I just know I am disappointing him.

I stir awake with the rushing noise of a car passing somewhere outside my room. I remember we had a fight last night on the phone, my boyfriend and I. A fight that confused me. I struggle to remember what the fight was about and can’t. The sheets are calling me – so cool on my legs, so soft, I fall back asleep. I should get up but:

I am rooted to the ground, sitting on a mountain in the woods on a stump. Everything is green and leafy. I am going to miss something but I don’t know what. I have become a tree. I cannot move. My boyfriend is angry with me. He wants me to get up, but I don’t want to.

Somehow in the dream I remember why and awake - sort of. There was a phone call last night – I am in this time zone, he is in that time zone. We are never it seems in the same time zone. We are wearing thin. It is not as it used to be. We used to be able to take the separations. I complain, I am teasing him.

Why didn’t you call me last night before you went to bed?

I hadn’t heard a word from him and I had called too late – he was asleep.

He responds: Why didn’t you call me?

I say – thinking I am teasing him, thinking I am light, thinking I just want to be close, thinking he will hear it in my voice – You should have called me because you are in the earlier zone.

He suddenly erupts: You cannot blame me for that! You should have called me!

This is not the man I met years ago. I was the one who never let him whine when we were apart, could not stand any suggestion of guilt. This is my part — to yell at him — which I have done before when I imagined he was trying to ‘guilt me” for something. We should be free, I had told him over and over.

He always used to say that he was just expressing his missing me, but I never believed him. Now I want to tell him that I get it, I understand, because I want to tell him that is how I feel right now. But as I am looking for the words – I can’t find the words miss you.

He screams louder. You are doing exactly what you used to accuse me of doing!

I know that. But I can’t find the words to explain. Instead I start laughing.

He is screaming: Look in the mirror. I can’t take this!

I continue to laugh and the more I laugh the worse it gets. I have never laughed before in this type of situation. It is a new response for me and I too am thrown off balance, but I cannot stop; I continue to laugh.

He screams again: You better look at yourself in the mirror! And then he hangs up.

This was not a dream. But it feels the same as my tossing and turning beneath the sheets this morning. I do not know why either of us behaved that way – but like my morning dream fragments we seemed locked in a script that could not be undone. Me – laughing; him - screaming. It is not like him; it is not like me. Somehow I am sure he wants me to get out of bed this morning. Somehow I am sure I should wake up. But I sink deeper under the covers and fall back asleep.

Eventually I will sit up, go to the bathroom, and make a pot of coffee in the hotel room coffee maker, using both of the two complimentary, pre-filled packs of coffee — because I like it strong. I will sit down and think about what to do.

And this is what I will think: I will call him and ask for a phone appointment. I know if we try to talk about this during his workday it will never work. I remember that when I called him last night – midnight for me – it was nine in the morning for him and he had just arrived at work. Work is always full-on for him – he is a different person when he works, intense, obsessive, arrogant, authoritative. He needs to attend to lots of problems and it makes him nervous. Was that what was behind his outburst last night? I know he will deny it.

We will set a time and we will talk. I hope he will not yell and I hope I will not yell. I hope we can work out this lifestyle that is killing us slowly, this lifestyle that is what we both wanted, this lifestyle that leaves no room for each other, this lifestyle, this lifestyle, this lifestyle… I still believe in us – we love each other enough to get angry. We love each other enough to want to make compromises. I pick up the phone and press his number: it is 10 am here, which means it is 7 pm there. It will be a better time this time.

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