Sleep, little blogger, sleep

by Lorin Michel Friday, October 21, 2011 11:10 PM

I’m having one of those weeks where I’m not sleeping as well as I usually do. I know we all have those nights and weeks. Some suffer from sleeplessness on a more chronic level; I’m lucky enough to only be afflicted occasionally. It is not fun, but it does allow for the brain to wander. Sometimes where it goes can be dark and gloomy, but often I can find myself involved in past family outings or relationships with friends, and those are almost universally good. Last night while I wasn’t sleeping between 4:46 and 6:30 something, I found myself remembering the best night of sleep I ever had.

It happened my sophomore year of college. I lived in Stoke Hall at the University of New Hampshire. The biggest dorm on campus, then and now, it was built as temporary housing in 1968. Note the ‘then and now’ reference. So much for temporary. The dorm was eight floors and three wings, one long and two short; co-ed. It was a pit, as most co-ed dorms are. I lived on the fifth floor, long wing for my freshman and sophomore year. During my sophomore year, I had a single. I also became good friends with another sophomore named Angelika Dierks. She was from a small town in the middle of New Hampshire, and lived two doors down from me. Not sure why we became friends; why does anyone? We just found ourselves enjoying each other’s company. So much so that at one point, when the weather had turned from fall to winter, and she was going home for the weekend, she invited me to join her. I agreed.

On a Friday afternoon, we climbed into her maroon colored Audi Fox, a terrible little car but it was hers, and started the journey to Charlestown. At some point, it began to snow, which wouldn’t necessarily be a problem except that most of the way between New Hampshire towns is traveled by winding back roads, and because of the aforementioned Fox. Still, we drove on and finally found ourselves not too far from her family home. The snow was heavy, both in the air and on the ground. The trees were weighted down already. She was driving slowly but evidently not slowly enough. The car skidded and we went into a snow bank. Stuck. Truth be told, I have no idea how we got ourselves out. I think someone must have come along to help two lovely college sophomores. Once again, we were on our way.

Within moments we pulled into the house’s drive area. It wasn’t a traditional driveway and the house was rather like an old mill. It was an oddly shaped wooden structure, with equally odd structures outside. They were nearly buried in snow. Her father’s white Volkswagen Rabbit was parked outside. It was nearly impossible to tell where the car ended and the snow began. Inside, her father, Ernest, an older German fellow, waited. She said hello, he barely greeted either of us, and we walked past. She had a strained relationship with her father; her mother had died from breast cancer when Angelika was 16. I think she blamed her father. Either way, she called him Old Man, not dad. It was uncomfortable, but he left us completely alone.

We cooked some pasta in a very tiny kitchen and managed to get the rabbit ears on the old black and white television to pick up CBS. We watched an episode of Dallas, a show neither of us followed. The house was cold, heated only by a wood stove. Upstairs was a small bedroom that had two narrow beds against opposing walls. There was no heat. I remember asking how we would stay warm, since it was, you know, winter, and there was, you know, massive amounts of snow outside and it was, you know, cold. Freezing actually. I could see my breath in the room. In the house. She said that we’d just pile on blankets, and she produced a stack that I figured would either keep us warm or smother us.

We each piled on those blankets and snuggled down for a long winter’s nap. I remember climbing into the bed and was sure I would freeze to death. I thought about the family I’d leave behind, the boyfriend that I loved more than life itself. The blankets were heavy, and soon I felt warmth creep through my body. I was sure it meant I was dying. The next thing I knew, cold, brilliant sunlight was streaming in through the tiny windows up near the rafters. I had never been so warm nor slept so soundly. I felt fabulous. I remember it like it was this morning. It is the best night of sleep I had ever had, and have ever had.

Angelika and I spent the next day with her surrogate mother and then decided to drive back to campus rather than spend another night. I don’t remember sharing more than two words with her father, but I remember the house, and I remember that night’s sleep.

I was thinking of it early this morning as I wasn’t sleeping. I was comfortable in my wonderful bed, snuggled under my blanket and my comforter. It was dark and cold, though evidently not cold enough. And my mind drifted back to that night in Charlestown, New Hampshire, population about 1,100, and a glorious night’s sleep in the bitter cold.

I’m remembering it now as I yawn and shiver a bit in the cool air drifting in through the open slider. I’ll keep the windows open tonight as I burrow, and hopefully, soon, I’ll duplicate that sleep. I celebrate the thought of it.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a date with my pillow and blankets.

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live out loud

Comments (1) -

10/22/2011 3:57:47 AM #

I was up from 3:05 till 5:21, the last time I looked. We could have had a phone date.

Pam United States

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