Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Lesson Learned: Don't Hold Up a Sign That Says I AM DRUNK!!!!!!!!!

I am more exhausted today--my first day back in Maine after winter break--than I was when I left for Buffalo after the fall semester ended. I did a lot of running around, sure, but that was only a small part of what made me tired.

I couldn't sleep. Or, to be more precise, I could sleep, but it was an awful sleep, a sleep that was interrupted every hour by another nightmare. Each morning I would wake up feeling like I'd spent the last seven hours running instead of sleeping.

I dreamed I was fired from my job because while my students were doing oral presentations, I sat in the back of the classroom and held up a sign that said I AM DRUNK!!!!!!!!!!!

I dreamed I was waitressing, that I'd forgotten table 52's bread, that I couldn't find the kitchen to pick up my orders, that the bartender was yelling at me, that fish frys were stacking up and up and up and up and up beneath warming lamps, but I couldn't get to them.

I dreamed I was lost. I dreamed I was being chased. I dreamed there was someone in my bedroom, standing over me, watching me sleep.

I dreamed I moved into a new apartment without looking at it first, that the bathroom was green with mold, that the toilets were so backed up they spewed mountains of waste into the air, that the toilets were so backed up they'd gotten into the bathtub, that when I tried to take a shower all that came up through the drain and down from the shower head was brown, brown, brown.

I dreamed of him.

Every morning I would open my eyes and feel it immediately--the pressure, the weight of something invisible leaning down on me.

I went back to Buffalo with an awful lot of baggage from a strange semester, and I guess the nightmares, the pressure, was just my body's way of working through it, trying to make sense of the often-ugly things I slogged through for the last five months.

Even when I was awake, I was busy trying to work things out in my head. I thought I would spend a lot of time writing, but I didn't; instead, I spent a lot of time reading, and when I tired of reading I tented a book over my face so I could lie still and think while rows and rows of words pressed their tiny serifs into my skin.

I thought about what I want to accomplish in the next semester and over the summer. I thought about the girl I've become. I thought about all the heartbreak I gave and took. I thought about my students and what I could do to better teach them the things they need to know. I thought about how I want to become a better person.

And it tired me out. Still, yesterday I made the drive back to Maine--tired--but when I made it to Portsmouth, to the Piscataqua River Bridge--the midpoint of which serves as the border between New Hampshire and Maine--I suddenly felt lighter, brighter. I felt like maybe I'd made peace with some of the things that had been hanging over me as I crossed the same bridge on my way home for Christmas. And later, after I went to sleep with Abbey curled against my hip, I didn't have a single nightmare. Today I might still be tired, and I might still need a lot more sleep to catch up on all that I lost over break, but I think maybe--just maybe--I'm getting somewhere now.

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