We've had a lot of loss this week. First Bernie Mac, then Isaac Hayes... they say that death comes in threes and I hope to God that "they" are wrong about that. No more dying! (I know this is a unrealistic request, but this is really stressing me out!). There may be additional blog posts because of these losses, but I'm not making any promises. Even though it's only Monday and the week JUST started, it's turning out to be hellish thanks to someone at work (NOT my boss, thank God) who happens to be the devil incarnate. I guess the honeymoon is officially over... Anyhoo, inkeeping with the promise I made to you and to myself, here's this week's post. If I can keep this up consistently (looks like I might succeed!), then maybe we'll move up to two posts a week, and then three, and then... well, you get my drift.
Totally random thought.
The question that begs to be answered is – when did it become imperative for me to take a nap in order to be fully prepared for a night out with the girls? When I was a kid, you couldn’t pay me to take a nap. I remember when I was in pre-school, all the other kids would pull out their cots and their pillows and blankets and hit the sack for at least an hour during the school day. But not this little Brown Girl. I’d be helping my teachers put toys back in their places, or assist with decorating our classroom, or simply sit and listen to my teachers gossip or discuss the intimacies of their home lives. I’d do a lot of things during that nap hour, but the one thing I wouldn’t do was sleep.
When I got to be a little older, every night around the same time, I’d complain to my mom that I didn’t feel well. To which she would roll her eyes and respond, “You feel fine, baby. You’re just sleepy.” Today, it strikes me as odd that I wouldn’t know the difference between feeling sleepy and feeling tired since the feeling of fatigue is so familiar to me at this point in my life.
I never took naps in high school because during the week I’d come straight home from school and rush through my homework in order to be able to socialize or watch television. And, why waste time sleeping when I could be talking to my boyfriend on the phone or watching a good movie on cable? On the weekends, when I actually had time to sleep, my goal was always to go out with my friends late at night. My father, a champion napper, understood a nap for nap’s sake, but didn’t understand the logic behind sleeping during the day to go out with your friends at night. And, in fact, if he caught me sleeping during the day and then I asked permission to go out at night, he’d use my nap as evidence that what I really needed to be doing was going to bed early (because obviously I was tired – why else would I need a nap?) instead of hanging out with my friends. So, of course, my solution for that was to pretend that I was upbeat, chipper, bright-eyed, and bushytailed ALL DAY – even if I was exhausted – in order for me to pass his test. It usually worked and he’d let me go out and stay out late. And rarely did I need a nap the next day. But, of course, this was when I was young and had energy.
I didn’t, in fact, become a fan of naps until college. I took them not because I needed them, but because they seemed like a luxury. After my first semester, I arranged my classes around two things: Jerry Springer and naptime. In between classes, I would leisurely make my way back to my dorm room, kick off my shoes, wrap my hair and tie on a scarf, and lie down for at least an hour, during which I’d fall into a deep and peaceful sleep. And, best of all, there was no one there to judge me. My roommate understood the value of naps just as much as I did, if not more, and therefore respected my quiet time. Come to think of it, she and I had a beautiful roommate relationship built on mutual respect and understanding and a common love of naps.
But back then, napping was something I wanted to do, not something I needed to do. Imagine my surprise a few years ago when I first uttered the words, “Whooo girl. If we’re gonna go out tonight, I need to take a nap.” The words didn’t even sound right coming out of my mouth. “Need” to take a nap? But why? I’d never needed a nap before. And then, it hit me. My youth – those reckless days of staying out til 5am, only to awaken at noon and do it all over again – were in the rearview mirror. Never again would I be able to survive for a week on no more than 10 hours of sleep. Gone are the days of me partying six nights a week and “catching up” on that sleep with a 2 hour nap on Sunday afternoon that would leave me good for the rest of the week. Those days are behind me now. Now, I NEED sleep. It’s a bit disconcerting to know that most weekends, I am unable to function like a normal person if I stay out past 3am two nights in a row. That means that I have to decide whether I’ll go out on Friday or Saturday night because my near-30-year-old body, it turns out, is not cut out for sleep deprivation.
Right now, it’s nearly 1am on a Friday night. The original plan was to go out with the girls to a party that some people from college invited me to. But, when I got home from work, I felt that familiar blanket of exhaustion wrap itself around me and I knew that I would be no good to my friends (or to myself for that matter) if I didn’t get a nap in before the night began. The plan was to lay down around 7pm and wake up around 8:30 to start making myself presentable. I had a bunch of things to do after work and so I didn’t actually stretch out until 7:45 or so. I slept right through my cell phone alarm at 8:30 and didn’t actually crack my eyes open until 9:35. When I woke up, I felt terrible! I’d missed four phone calls and six text messages from my girls, trying to determine the plan for the night. I was embarrassed. Had I really slept that long? How could I have ignored my alarm? Why was it that I needed the nap in the first place? What kept me from being able to come home from work, eat a nice dinner, make myself presentable, and go out and have a good time with my friends – without the need for a nap?
As soon as I’d had a glass of water, I picked up the phone and started reading my text messages. I had received a text from Bestie at around 8:45 saying she had a headache and was bowing out of our plans (she has been doing that a lot lately – BORING), I rolled my eyes and then returned calls to Shawn and Soleil. Shawn answered the phone, her voice thick with sleep. She had fallen asleep, too. So we agreed that we’d hang out another day. Soleil had actually left a text message saying she was going to bed and that she would call me later. I sent her a text apologizing for being inaccessible and told her that we’d kick it another time.
And then it hit me. I am not alone in my need for beauty sleep. All my girls were asleep, too, and it wasn’t even 10pm. While I took some comfort in a “misery loves company” sort of way, I was also sort of sad for us. We were no longer the nocturnal party girls that we used to be. That energy eludes us now. But I guess these sorts of things will come to pass and, eventually, more and more signs like this will remind me of the fact that I am not the person I used to be.
In some ways, I grieve the person that I was. I liked her. She was fun. She took a few risks and didn’t care about the consequences. But, only a FEW risks. In fact, I often wish that I had taken advantage of my youth more. When you are young, you can make mistakes and nobody says, “Wow, look at that pathetic woman who has seen so much and, as a result of her experiences, should really not be making immature decisions like that. Shameful!” No. In fact, when you are young, people laugh and say, “Look at that crazy kid, taking a chance to see what life has to offer. She messed up now, but she has many more chances to make it right.” It’s sort of depressing to realize that youth will not always be on your side. No more will you have a defense for your naïveté or your gullibility. You should know better. And because you know better, you should act better. You should BE better than what you once were.
I don’t know if I’m better than what I was back in my college days when I partied til the sun came up and thought that it was passé to go to bed before 10pm. What I do know is that now, I need a nap before I socialize at night and, sometimes, I need to stay home on Friday nights. Somehow this change in my routine has made me aware of the fact that whether or not I’m “better” than who I used to be, I’m certainly “different” than what I used to be. And, actually I’m ok with that. I think…