You may not know this to look at me, but at one point I was capable of sleeping well into the early afternoon.
O, how I miss those days. The bed was a warm, comforting place, a place from which I easily dreamt elaborately scripted scenes of world-wide adoration. Freshly minted coins bearing my likeness dropped from hot air balloons; sumptuous desserts were stacked one upon another, teetering precariously over banquet tables lined with well-wishers; banners were strung from lamp post to lamp post proclaiming the virtues of my excellent posture, my dainty foot, my ability to do the splits in one direction but not the other…
And then, as we say, I woke up.
When did I stop being able to sleep?
It may be in my blood.
We’re not a family of sleepers. Both of my parents, for example, give the early-morning impression of having been up for hours. Look at them, with their pressed pants, their tiny little teefers glinting in the sunlight. It’s 6:00 a.m. and they’ve hit the ground running.
These people are ready to take on the world.
It’s a heavy responsibility, being their child.
Sleeping in is considered a treat in my neck of the woods. I came to know this the morning my grandfather leaned over my sleeping form at 5:30 a.m. and said, in a low, Midwestern kind of voice, “Sleepin’ in? What is it, your birthday?”
Even at five, I could sense an obligation that would stay with me for the rest of my life.
But now, the sleep I once welcomed and held with chubby, loving arms eludes me, shows up in the early afternoon to tease me, a handsome sandman of temptation whispering in my ear, “Why don’t you just lay down? Go on, take a nap.”
You can ask my mother, however, about my stance on naps. Naps, as I once explained to her, are for babies.
Tired, overworked, sleepy babies.
What are the odds that someone will hand me a bottle (a nice ale, perhaps), take my shoes off, and make me lay down right after lunch?
“You don’t have to sleep,” they’ll say. “You just have to be quiet for an hour.”
Oh, but I’ll complain: I don’t wanna take a nap! I wanna stay up!
And then I will drink my bottle, lay down and close my eyes and dream dreams of greatness. And cakes.
Greatness and cakes.