My senior year of college, I had a terrible sleeping schedule and a lot to think about. I was working as the Editor in Chief of my school’s newspaper, which kept me up til the wee hours of the morning, and every night I wasn’t doing that, I was working on editing and producing a feature-film. I had just gotten my first smart phone, and so I would sit in my room, checking audio levels, scanning through b-roll, or waiting on my PC to render the latest chunk of footage, documenting everything through social media, broadcasting to an audience of no one.
No one was awake at 3 am. The house that I rented was big and many-storied. It swallowed noise, so that even though I lived with 5 other girls, I nearly always felt alone. And I was never more alone than at 4 am. Or better yet, 5 am, when the sun was starting to come up over the mountain and the birds started to sing.
I would sit in my room and debate whether or not I should try to sleep. I had class in the morning, but on the other hand, sleep deprivation was my drug of choice. I had made it nearly 40 hours once without sleep, trying to see at what hour the hallucinations would start. They never did.
If I decided to stay up, I would look for something to watch, or something to read. A love story, maybe, about star-crossed kids and ultimate unhappiness. Maybe something about a girl like me; so bitterly lonely that she decided to excel at it, who built walls to keep everyone in the world out, until she met a hurricane who knocked them down. Despite best efforts, this girl-like-me would find herself head over heels, at the end of her senior year at school, doomed for heartbreak as graduation loomed like the sunrise behind the mountain.
I would journal, writing fictionalized accounts of my friends, trying to make sense of the impossible mess my heart was pulling me through. Sometimes I would cry thinking about the girl upstairs and how well she treated me and how much I would miss her. Maybe I was only forcing myself to stay awake so that I would have an excuse to fall asleep the next day in her arms.
Tonight feels like one of those nights, which is strange. I don’t have a job that keeps me awake, although since I’m awake, I should be doing work right now. But my house is hot, like my place was at college. It’s small, but it is empty, and I’m completely alone. I’m watching movies and searching for things to read, accidentally finding representation even though I don’t need it so badly anymore.
I just finished watching Welcome Home, Roxy Carmichael, which seems like the type of story I would have watched in college. It’s a coming of age story with questionably gay characters, a main character who is written but never seen, and a rather depressing ending. I loved it.
And afterwards, it made me want to write again. Writing is a rarity for me now, as my former “creative hours” simply don’t exist as they once did. All through growing up, I would journal obsessively, sometimes writing fiction, other times, reality. I would stay up hours and hours into the night, finding that the more sleep-deprived my brain was, the more colorful it seemed to get.
Now I just fall asleep. There’s not enough hours of the day to get things done. Back in college, that wasn’t a problem, as I would just stay awake and get them done at 4 am. But now as an adult with a vague, ever-worsening sleep disorder it’s harder and harder.
Tonight, however, I recaptured a glimmer of that. It’s too hot to sleep, so I’m laying in my bed among a mess of clothes that I’m in the midst of unpacking, alongside chargers and cables and hard-drives. It’s not 4 am, but rather just midnight. I’ve about hit my limit for the night. On the brighter side, I’m not crying about that girl anymore. I’m a bit less angsty, but perhaps I can still be poetic.