In the dark, I lay stretched out on my back, arms above my head, trying to expose as much of my body to air as possible. A thin, green afghan lies across one knee. I can't stand it, so I push it away. An afghan I love suddenly becomes a heated piece of sandpaper, chafing my skin in the middle of the night.
It feels like one of those typical, cliched scenes you see about a hot, southern night. Well, this one is about Alabama. And, this chick lives in an attic.
I drift in and out of sleep, litening to the roar of my three window units, two boxfans, and small, almost useless ceiling fan. The unit downstairs turns itself on and off, since I have it set to 78. It's so loud, it rattles the house and wakes me up.
I've just come back in from taking Jackson outside - it's no better outdoors - muggy, thick, oppressive. But, at least this means Jack won't have an accident in the middle of the night. I don't care if it is two in the morning. It means I won't have poop to clean up at 530a.
This is no good. I pull off my shirt, laying only in a pair of men's boxers, and turn over on my stomach, spreading my legs out, kicking off all the papers I'd been arranging on my bed. 'Why is it in the wintertime, I can never get these sheets to warm up, but in the summertime, they feel as though I've been keeping them in the oven?,' I think. I pull over my favorite pillow - you know, the one with the light green, blue and white pillowcase that's faded from the years? It was Mom's. For some reason, that cotton is cooler than the rest. No matter, though. Within minutes, I'm sticking to everything.
My throat is dry and something that feels like cat hair tickles my nose. It reminds me that I need to clean my AC filters tomorrow. Maybe, in some tiny way, that will help, although for the life of me, I can't see how.
I've tried turning onto my side, but I can't stand for my legs to touch while I'm like this, and a pillow in between only makes it hotter. I've laid at an oblique angle, but I just can't get comfortable. In between, I have dreams of Phil, which I'm trying to avoid. They seem to make my sleep worse. I remember going through the same thing with Aaron, the infection in my brain only growing worse with every passing minute.
I try to focus on something pleasant. We had the greatest porch swing at Meadow View, the house in which I grew up. I loved that thing. One night, after I had gotten home from work, I laid out there and watched the heat lightning go crazy, while my mom was inside on the phone. I remember praying over and over again that our streetlamp would go off. We lived at the end of a cul-de-sac, so it would have been pitch black, save for the moon and the occasional flash. All of a sudden, the lamp blinks out. I thought, 'Woah, did I do that? Thanks, God!'
I heard my mom get up and come to the door. She opened it and looked out. "Are you okay?" "Yes, ma'am." "Okay, well, if it gets worse, come inside." I heard her say, as she shut the door, "no, the power's out, and she's outside laying on the swing." I just smiled. When you lose someone, you go through these phases of remembering all the fights you had, all the bad things that happened, and all the things you did wrong. Eventually, your conscience eases up on you, and you can start to see through the forest, to the individual trees - and you can pick out the good ones and focus on those.
Jesus, it's hot. I need to get out of here. I always wonder how people made it way back before there was central heating and air. Obviously, there wasn't as much greenhouse (yes, I believe in that), but it was still hot. In the here and now, my energy is completely sapped every time I'm subjected to extreme heat like this. It was impalpable upstairs, yesterday. For some reason, it wasn't so hot in the attic. But, today, I could barely move, much less get anything accomplished. Every time I took Jackson outside, sweat would run down my already moist skin, underneath my t-shirt. I'd have to dry off whenever we came back inside. In fact, yesterday was the first day I'd ever seen Jack pant. I brought him inside and gave him more water, knowing we'd just have to repeat the cycle later.
I've been drinking water all weekend long, too. I have this weird habit of doing things, where I won't let myself have anything to drink, until I complete a certain task (ie. finish doing the dishes or take a shower or fold laundry). I don't know why I do it, and it's become a real obsession. I do strange things. Meh, I'm used to that.
There's a bird that chirps outside my window every night. He's the loudest thing I've ever heard. And, with me being at the level of the treetops, he's basically screaming directly through my closed window. I have no idea who he's calling, if he's guarding a nest or maybe if he's just blind and doesn't realize that it's night time, and there's no sense for him to be going on about whatever he's going on about at this hour. It pretty much drives me insane until I fall asleep. That's another one of my quirks - I can't stand to hear birds singing at night. It just seems all wrong to me. They may as well wear tiny hats and ride unicycles for all that it's worth. Why do you see birds walking anyway? Just the other day, I almost hit a bird crossing the road - on his two legs. I thought, 'well, if you're not going to use those wings, maybe you should just give them to me," which was silly, I later realized. There's no way those tiny wings could hold me.
My brain is trying so hard to go to sleep, but I'm scared if I do, I'll start having those nightmares about Phil, again. Whenever I get hot, when I sleep, I have horrible nightmares. I don't want to think about him anymore. It hurts me to think that he doesn't love me anymore, so I'd rather not dwell on it. Chronos does me no good, though. He doesn't give me the option of traveling forwards or backwards in time, if nothing else, but to avoid pain.
Avoid thought - non-check.
Avoid feeling - non-check.
Avoid heat - non-check.
Avoid cat laying on my back - check.
Jackson is asleep, now. I have a boxfan pointed directly on him, but a good bit away from his cage, because I don't want him to get sick. Money's really, really bad right now, but he has to go see Dr Murphy at the end of the week, to get the rest of his shots.
I have so many necessary expenses that need to be covered - car fixed, get glasses, Jack's meds, new work shoes, medical bills, groceries - but I have nothing. And, I continue to have nothing. I've done a few really superfluous things over the past couple of months, so I'm really going to have to start running a tighter ship. No more rum.
All of my extremities are burning. My feet feel as though all my blood has pooled in them, causing them to swell and feel feverish.
It's almost three, and my mind still races. My thoughts go back to my Jacksonville days, walking around the campus with Aaron, breaking onto the field in the middle of the night to just lay on our backs and look at the stars.
Why must the memory recreate such painful, needless memories? I remember walking out of Great American Cafe in the Galleria, the first time I met Phil, and he held out his hand, palm up, indicating for me to hold it. To this day, it's one of the sweetest gestures I've ever witnessed. I was attached to him from then on. He always had the "tough guy" exterior, but behind it all, he was mine, and he was beautiful. He still is.
Okay, enough trips down memory lane. I'm tired. I want to sleep. I want to not melt. I want to get up at 530a and pray this week goes by quickly and smoothly, although it won't, because we have all new residents. All new teaching. All new med students. All new screw-ups and lost tempers from attendings.
But, it's not new. It's old. It's all very, very old. And, very, very tiring.
Speaking of tired, the bird has stopped. I'm taking my chance. I'm going to pray for sleep.
Pray for dreams of cool forests, the rainy season, the noises of the residents and me. Anything but the present.