I was 8. I hated the dark. The quiet. I never could quite put my finger on whom or what I thought was going to “get me,” I just knew something was.
One method that would see me to sleep, usually later that sooner, was my one true childhood friend, the TV. Some nights I would drift off to dream without much of a fight.
Others, and more often, I wouldn’t. I would lay in bed, squeezing my eyes together so tightly that tears would leak out their sides. Some nights I would try to lay still and just listen to the TV, hoping for the best.
Regardless as towhich I opted for, the real thing I listened for was my grandpa.
5’10”, 250 lbs, well into his 70s, the man was a damned ninja. He’d be down the hall and in my room staring at me silently from the doorway. And I’d never hear him coming.
I can’t say which scared me more: opening my eyes to see him standing there or if he, somewhere between his normal voice and a whisper, said, “What are you doing with that TV on?”
Either way, my heart would stop out of panic, and my butt would clinch because I knew I was gonna get an ass whooping for having the TV on when I was supposed to be asleep.
Most of the time, unless he was in a particularly grumpy mood, which wasn’t often, he’d just turn it off and tell me to go to sleep. Easier said than done, Pops
If I was feeling frisky and had nothing left to lose, I sneak ever so quietly out of my bed and, in an act that was more out of preservation for what little night’s sleep I might get rather than defiance, I’d turn the knob and back on the tube would go.
Now, that act presented its own special set of problems. My ears had to multitask. I had to listen to the TV to put me to sleep, listen for the “thing” that was undoubtedly out there and coming for me, and I had to listen for Pops. Dear Lord, if my grandpa came back in there and the TV was on again, my ass really was gonna be grass.
Then, let’s say I DID fall asleep. I had to make sure I was up before Pops so I could turn it off again before my treachery was discovered. Oh, what a tangled web we weave.
The Air Conditoner
I won’t go through the whole process again, but if it was summer, the AC was the alternative to the TV. If I turned it down low enough, the white noise would put me to sleep. The problem? Pops had lived through the Great Depression, and he was a frugal man. If he saw the AC was below 75, well, you get the idea.
So, the balancing act was the same with sneaking around with the AC as it was the TV.
Now, I fully understand that I’ve made my grandpa seem like a villain. Who could begrudge a child the chance to sleep, regardless of how. That could not be farther from the case. My Pops was the kindest , most gentle, patient man I’ve ever known. He was just set in his ways. And he was old enough to be my great grandpa, so the generation gap was real.
I never found the key to sleep. As I set here writing this, I’ve been up all night. Two days ago, I passed smooth out and died for 13 hours. That was only because I had about 5 hour of sleep total for the 6 days prior.
Really, I know the root of my problem is from PTSD suffered due to a complexity of issues surrounding my mother, but that’s a story for another day.
So, I’m headed to work where I’ll be alert and awake all day. Come home and be the same. I won’t get any good sleep until my body just decides it’s done. Nothing works. I’ve tried it all. But, hey, I try to look at it like this. It just gives me more time to write.