I have had a busy day and after reading for an hour or so to relax, turn out the light and go to bed about 10:30. I put on one of the inspirational tapes I often play to accompany me to slumber land, adjust the pillows just so, tilt the small fan to encourage the mild evening breeze and with a sigh settle in for a long snooze.
But it is not to be. Somewhere around midnight I nod off but then awake at 1:30 bleary eyed and sweaty. I take an aspirin for my aching knee, check the fridge thinking I might have a small beer to loosen the edges but see that my weekly quart is finished. I plump up the pillows again and pop in another CD.
I lay on my right side and then my left. I lay on my back and slip a pillow under my knees and sprawl. I review the projects I am working on and come up with a solution to a design problem. I make a mental note of the groceries to buy tomorrow and consider my plans for the upcoming week. I think of an old boyfriend, then wonder what my old family home now looks like. I think of my son and miss him.
By 3 a.m. I am worn out trying to go to sleep and finally get up. I do not fight this unexpected change of tempo but willingly explore it. I have learned that as you get older your circadian rhythms lose their regularity and can slip from three-quarter time into a samba or jitterbug without warning.
The hours between 3 and 5 are the deepest part of night – too late for night owls and too early for worm catchers. It is the no man’s land of sleep. Nothing stirs but the delta breeze. What happens at night when everyone else is sleeping? If I stay awake until 5 or 6 will I then sleep until 2 or 3 tomorrow afternoon? I don’t think I have ever slept past 10 a.m.
I make a strong cup of coffee, slather a croissant with some thick blackberry jam and go out to sit on the patio. Less than a moment later Sweetie Pie joins me, her golden eyes gleaming with a nocturnal hunter’s lust. The air is much cooler outside and when I look up I see only two stars twinkling. The city lights cast too strong a glow for starry skies. I remind myself that a trip to observe the desert sky at night is on my bucket list and I have already postponed it too long.
I hear a car engine growling and soon a security patrol car is slowly gliding past. A youngish man with a peaked hat sits in the front seat looking alert. What a job! He stops further down the parking lot and gets out to examine a car by flashlight, but seemingly satisfied, soon drives off.
I think of the neighborhood watch program now in effect at the apartment complex. We are located in a marginal area of town, already a little run down and shabby but still making an effort. One of the involved neighbors told me they are considering putting razor wire along the perimeter to discourage people from going over the wall. When I inquire whether this was directed towards our residents or our neighbors, my remark was greeted with suspicion and inspected for irony.
Yesterday morning I noticed a nicely dressed young man with a big black plastic bag walking down the driveway. The friendly hello I offered was met with squinty wariness and a quickened pace. A few moments later I saw the dumpster lid go up and a dark head bobbing among the fumes. Someone was stealing our garbage, I thought, my eyebrows shooting skyward. Was this a matter for the neighborhood watch? I considered the ramifications of being a stool pigeon and kept mum.
The coffee that I earlier drank to keep awake has now perversely made me sleepy but I will not yield lightly to that siren’s call. I have already been fooled by the drooping lid and casual yawn. The lawn sprinklers pop up and begin spraying at 5 a.m. In the distance I hear the high call of a lonesome rooster who is also sleepless in Sacramento.