One of the great things about getting older is that you're tired enough to fall asleep, all the time. Or maybe it's that you realize you're not missing anything if you nod off. You know that it will all be there when you wake up, for good or ill. This might be called perspective.
For example, I never used to be able to take a nap, but now I'm a big fan. I love naps. When I told a friend about this, she called them power naps. She said, "After you take one, you can work harder."
To me, the term "power nap" is an oxymoron. I don't take power naps. I take out-of-power naps.
I don't nap to work harder. I nap because I'm tired and I need to lie down.
I used to have all manner of sleep quirks. I couldn't sleep at night unless the room was completely dark, absolutely quiet, or if there was a man next to me.
Then I got over it. My second divorce cured me.
Nowadays I have no curtains on my bedroom windows, and daylight streams in at dawn, but it doesn't wake me. Nothing wakes me, these days. Here is a true story - a few years ago, a fire broke out in a field next door to my house, and it took 10 firetrucks all night to extinguish. I slept through it. Why?
I was tired.
But I relapsed on book tour, in different hotel rooms for four weeks, and I got to thinking that I couldn't sleep unless it was dark. Hotels have those double curtains; you know the ones, the top of it made of some lovely fabric and behind it the secret curtain, made of gray impermeable rubber to block out light, noise, and nuclear war.
I closed the curtains, using that weird plastic wand, went to bed, and settled down. Then I noticed the flashing red lights on the fire detector and my BlackBerry. The phosphorescent glow of the digital clock. The red switch of a surge protector. The ghostly whiteness from the bathroom night light. The hall light spilling under the door. The bright pinpoint of the laptop. The green of the thermostat.
Christmas in Room 373.
I got up and started unplugging things like crazy, turning over the BlackBerry, covering the thermostat with a towel, and tilting the alarm clock to the wall, but when I went back to bed, no dice. I reached for a pillow to burrow under, which was when I realized there were 26 of them on the bed. They were of all types and sizes; some were thick rolls like logs, and others were soft and square as ravioli.
I tried all the pillows, found some too hard and some too soft, then threw them off the bed like a latter-day Goldilocks, until I came to the widest and tallest pillow I'd ever seen, maybe 6 feet long and 2 feet wide. I turned on the light and called the front desk. "What's this big thing in my bed?"
"It's an organic body pillow."
Huh? For organic bodies? "What's that?"
"Our guests love our body pillows. They hug them. It's a sleep aid."
"Really? Thanks." I hung up, turned off the light, and flopped back down. After a minute, I leaned over and gave the body pillow an awkward hug. I admit it, I felt silly, looping an arm around an inanimate object. But it was kind of cuddly, and after a few minutes, it felt like a warm and friendly thing that I didn't have to marry and divorce.
I named him George.
As in Clooney.
Luckily, I was in town for two dreamy nights, during which George and I slept happily together. I snoozed like a baby. So did he. It was hard to leave him, but we vowed there would be no strings. We made no promises we couldn't keep. When I had to move on, he didn't ask me to stay. In fact, he said nothing. He couldn't. He knew the way it was from the beginning.
I bet he's already sleeping with someone else.
With the curtains closed.