Falling Asleep

Falling asleep has never been a problem for me. Once my head touches the pillow, I am in dreamland. Or dangerland — really depends.

Closing one’s eyes is the most vulnerable thing one can do. Once all sight is lost there is an eerie sense of openness — to a darkness within and beyond. The world shut out and ourselves shut in. Shut in with the most dangerous person, ourselves.

My best sleep in recent years have been in a 6 star hotel room on Sentosa in Singapore. Surrounded by nature, sound proof walls and bed linen that were fluff-ily luxurious; my tired head found a comfort, a sweetness as if I was yet again enveloped into the warm ocean of my mother’s womb. Somehow by hiding myself in the layers of duvets, blanket and thin sheets; I burrowed my way into an inner sanctum of peace. Sweet sleep. Alone with my dreams and unafraid of what was ahead of me or within me; I slept well.

The worse sleep competition would have many entrants. One would think the time I spent on the streets of Manila, in a sleeping bag surrounded by thousands of young people who had travelled there for World Youth Day and to see the Pope would have made sleep difficult if not impossible. Yet sleeping on the streets, energized by a common mission, and surrounded by friends or soon to be friends from around the world was exhilarating and made sleep quick because I was simply so tired from the day, just like when one falls from an highly charged emotional day into a little mess on the floor; clothes still on, showerless and totally oblivious to everything.

But that was not the worse sleep. Far from it.

One would think that the sleep on trains and planes would be poor sleep. I would not disagree. Getting to sleep would be difficult for sure. But for me once I felt asleep, I would be like dead log. I also loved trains, planes and ships. I could sleep though it all. From the train in Indian where my friend and I slept next to 2 strange men on bunk beds; spending most of the time before we slept speaking about politics in India while the rest of the masses on the train pressed outside our compartment door. Some seating on the ledges of the seats of other travellers as if that was a seat in itself.

Or the time on a train between Vatican and , in Italy; when my travelling companion and I were warned by the train inspector to take whatever we had to tie our compartment doors shut and to ensure the windows were locked because train robbery was prevalent on that line. We should have been up all night perhaps in anticipation of the possible violation to come. However C my travelling mate was gifted with the ability to sleep through anything so he slept through the entrance of the man that climbed into the other bunk in our cabin halfway through our journey. His entry woke me. I gave him the good eye to eye and ascertained no ill intent on his part and then fell back to my slumber.

Still here to tell the tale. Luck? Or just not all the world is dangerous? Or they were just parts of my dream journey while I am here on earth?

No the worse sleep I ever had, or rather the worse trying to fall asleep which is really what the bad sleep experience is; well it is when I am in bed with a man whom I really don’t want to be in bed with. The 2am chatting online which leads to an indecent proposal. Where the come on over invite is not an invite to a child’s version of a slumber party, rather a night of hopefully no sleep. These are the gambles of the single person which either becomes an entire new story in itself or a really bad night. A really bad one. The type you sleep to forget.

C and I just fooled around. Not the same C as my travelling buddy in Italy. That travelling buddy’s girlfriend gave me a long distance call before there was Skype to make it clear in firm and in uncertain terms that I was not to covert her boyfriend and to never ever in no uncertain terms share a room with him. Even though we were two poor unemployed fresh graduates on our pilgrimage to Lourdes, Taize and Rome. We had met at 15 in church and were friends through school. We were flung together because it was supposed to be a group of three travelers but the other guy backed out at the last moment.

No this C and I met at a friend’s party, once but didn’t really talk there. I was walking out of a pizza place one night with some friends and saw him walk in. The sense of recognition was so strong that I stopped where I was. And he saw me staring. I fumbled for some words. I really was not trying to pick him up. He thought I was. I just felt I knew him from somewhere and wanted to just say hi. Acknowledge him.

He promptly said he didn’t remember meeting me — but wrote his number on a piece of paper and said “Let’s hang out”. My group applauded my aplomb when I walked out of the pizza joint and I was left confused but excited.

It was with this same voice that he wrote on text — “Come over”

And yes I ashamedly did. The TV was on while we fooled around. He admired my beautiful breasts and I could feel his pure erection. Yet while my body said yes yes yes — feed me, I want this. My heart was like “huh?” and my brain was No No No. After being manhandled, we lay in bed together. I wanted to leave, I felt I could not sleep, I felt strange. He said stay. You will get used to it, it’s just because there are two of us in bed and you are not used to that.

It was not that.

We never slept together again.

I needed a night of sleep to get over that night of no sleep.

The worse night of sleep was also the best.

The nights when I slept standing up next to the hospital bed of my mother who had undergone massive surgery when her abdomen exploded. While I stole sleep where I could. There was nowhere else I wanted to be. I wanted to be where she was. So even when she woke for a brief moment and looked around the ward she would see me. I could only sleep there being anywhere else I would have been sleepless despite the softest of bedding on offer.

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