Or, How I Nearly Killed Myself Sleeping.
Throughout my life I’ve had a strange relationship with sleep. I like it but it seems I’ve been very busy during my supposed down time. But then I’ve also fallen asleep at odd times. Like in a sound proof room while auditioning a sax player; at a job interview after the guy stepped out; at school where, just outside the window, they were building the new school and it was blasting day. I fell off my chair for that one.
I’ve thrashed and talked and not slept. I’ve slept in the finest beds and the backs of vans rolling down the road. I fell asleep while waiting for my match to be called at a tennis tournament. They found me minutes before I would have defaulted. I’ve slept with women who’ve given me shit for snoring. In return I’ve given them their choice of ear protection.
But when I do sleep I do it hard. I mean no amount of noise could wake me up. My mother standing over me screaming didn’t work. Car crashes outside, arguments inside, I’d get them in the news tomorrow. I’ve always thought it was funny when people have asked if I can hear myself snoring. How stupid is that? I mean, I’m sleeping I didn’t hear the cops surrounding the house because the house arrest bracelet of the idiot upstairs went off. Cop cars were all over the street but they didn’t stay long. Turns out the bracelet went off when the paramedics took him out due to a drug overdose.
As with any heavy sleeper who moves around I’ve fallen out of bed. That usually wakes me up so before anyone can run into see what the noise is I’m already back under the covers as if nothing at all has happened. But that’s not always the case.
For a period of time I had to sleep in bunk beds. No, I wasn’t in prison. The house was small, a cousin lived with us, so, bunk beds. Things were okay on the top bunk. Sure, if someone turned the overhead light on it was like looking into the sun but you learn to adjust. Roll with the punches.
I’m sleeping and it’s a normal night. I’m still until I start moving and then I’m still again. I roll over and back again. The next time it’s a larger arc and maybe a bit to close to the side of the bed but no. I’m back on my back and all is right in the world.
Until I rolled to far and fell off the top bunk.
It just so happened at the time my mother walked by to watch this. I landed with a thunk directly on my head. Concussion number seven or eight, I can never remember, I’ve always considered it. My mother comes over and looks at me.
“Chris.” She says then repeats. She leans down and I’m not moving. She can’t tell if I’m breathing. Probably because I wasn’t snoring. She tried to rouse me a few times before doing what mothers around the world would do. She went to bed.
When she told me this story the next morning (where I woke up on the floor) I posed the question about the possibility that I could have died in the fall. She said,
“If that was true I figured you’d keep until morning. Why ruin everyone’s sleep? Ambulances, police, the entire neighborhood would have woken up. Better to take care of it in the morning.”
Compassion. I know where I get mine.