September 26, 2009

Comforts of Home

I spent most of my childhood with insomnia, forced to go to bed too early by my parents. I eventually would cry myself to sleep, nearly every night, but not before my sister would tsk and whisper, "Can you shut up please?"

I wasn't tired because my parents didn't let me do anything. At least during the school year, I ambled from class to class from 8 to 3, and was sometimes allowed to attend an after-school rehearsal for a play I'd been cast in. But in summertime, I really couldn't do anything.

My sister and I might play badminton in the driveway, but inevitably would get too frustrated with the birdie landing in the street or in the gutter of our garage's roof, forcing us to scrape it out with a rake or set up the ladder to climb and fish it out of the rotten leaves and bird droppings.

I might ride my bike, but for some reason I paid attention to the perimeter that my parents set forth, and did not go past: James Street to the north, Thompson to the east, Burnet to the south, and Teall to the west.

Nights in the summer were the worst. We'd take cool baths and change into billowy cotton nightgowns, worn too thin to be worn around our father, and go to bed when it was still light out. The window fan would rumble, but cast no relieving breeze on us, for our mother insisted on setting it to suck the hot air out rather than blow cool air in. Sweat would collect along the backs of our necks and knees, but even as a teenager I would cling to the soaking fur of a stuffed puppy or a small bear for comfort.

Amidst my whimpering and sighing, which often continued after I fell asleep, I'd wonder what was happening out in the world, what my classmates might be up to, what wonderful things might await me when I could finally leave the house. I never replayed the day's events in my mind because, as I said, nothing really ever happened except what happened on TV, what punishments I'd served, and what new accusations arose.

I've lived a lot since then, going away to college, spending a semester abroad in London, moving to New York City, escaping to California for a month...But lately I've been feeling myself quickly regressing back to my childhood self. It's not just the gradual unsexing that being left behind in a cavalcade of marriages and pregnancies has precipitated. I'm drinking less. I'm cursing less. I've reverted to simplistic judgments of people, like "mean" versus "nice." I'm comforted only while clutching onto a sympathetic stuffed pig.

And I'm staying in, letting the world pass me by.

I think that there must be people having fun out there, in the rain, this Saturday night. I think that there are a lot of people who think they should be having fun, but really aren't. I'm in here, wondering about it all, rather than doing anything.

I've seen too much. People have shown their true colors to me. New York has shown me what it can do to for me. I keep putting myself out there, giving them all a second chance, and regret it all the time.

I know I should probably keep trying. But not tonight.

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