I am a Nightwalker
I woke up early this morning, was it my husband’s, or did the snore belong to me? I was uncertain. Was my daughter in her bed? I had not heard her come home. Was my son doing OK? I was unsure, he was hours away, road racing. I could only be certain of one thing, it would be between 3:50 and 4:10 am, as I am a Nightwalker, and it is my time to rise. I groped around in the dark for my watch, 4:03 am.
Sometimes I try to deny my fate, close my eyes and will myself back to sleep.
Sometimes I get up straight away, resigned to my fate, plod down the hall to find a cosy spot. The quiet cold air and change of scene sometimes soothes me back to sleep.
Sometimes I lie awake and stare into the blackness and imagine.
Sometimes I flip back the cover of my laptop and write.
Always I wake. Always I leave my bed. I am a Nightwalker.
I have Ankylosing Spondylitis, which is under control now but leaves a legacy. During the active stage of this condition, I was undiagnosed, fearful and in terrible pain. Over the years I learned that a cocktail of highly addictive and strong medicines would help me sleep. The magic wore off at about 4am in the morning and I would have to take some extra painkillers to get me through until the morning. I had to wait for the meds to kick in and so my night life began. I no longer need the drugs in that form but the habit continues. My specialist told me that the routine is so ingrained that I need chemical intervention to correct my sleep pattern, he prescribed sleeping pills.
Sometimes I scan through social networks to see how my family, who should be awake on the other side of the planet, are doing.
Sometimes I put on the T.V with the volume set to 10, so that I must lip read, to learn about economics or the ultimate gadget.
Sometimes, I pick up a recipe book and jot down all the things I want to try.
Sometimes I am happy, others tearful, mostly I am tired.
Always I wander. Always I leave my dreams. I am a Nightwalker.
The pills came with rules. I had to take them half an hour before I went to bed and divide an already minute pill, I found myself looking at the clock, wondering, did I feel tired, should I take the pill yet, then worrying if I had managed to slice off the right amount. Then I was petrified I would not be able to wake up, amid nightmares of the house burning or intruders I would constantly find myself sitting bolt upright in bed, sweating, alarmed. I also felt terrible during the day. It is comical that I cannot give up the control of my sleep to a pill, but there it is, I tried for a month and against advice gave up. I am a Nightwalker.
Sometimes I make a hot drink and pull the curtains to watch the sun rise.
Sometimes I find a pen and doddle swirls of vines with droplets and globes.
Sometimes I think about the day ahead, and mentally map out the hours.
Sometimes I find my stash of chocolate, break off a cube and let the sugary fat melt slowly over my tongue. Then I must clean my teeth which is dangerous because my body then thinks the day has begun.
Always I search in the shadows. Always I leave the warmth. I am a Nightwalker.
As a creature of the dark, made for the light, I employ help. I use the walls to guide me, the creaks of the boards to confirm my path and the chinks of street lights to stop me from stumbling. Everything is familiar but different, still, waiting for life. I hear the house moan and complain, the dog scratch and make his dream woofs. I hear my body split the dark spaces which close behind me as I travel. I know that there are creatures outside also who rustle and creep and wonder if there are more inside that hide in the corners or under my bed. I always find a safe place and lift my feet from the floor, in case they touch me. I am a Nightwalker but I am still afraid of the things I cannot see.
Sometimes I pick up objects in my house and feel them as if I were blind.
Sometimes I open a random book and learn about eggs, starfish or how to repair a vase with Plasticine and glue.
Sometimes I remember my past and consider my future.
Sometimes I just sit and rub at my temples and wonder about the sleeping pills.
Always I return to my bed. Always I think tomorrow might be different. But I am a Nightwalker.
My place will be as I left it, my husband knows I am a Nightwalker and never takes my spot away. He sometimes feels my return and shares his warmth but he never walks with me. When you are a Nightwalker your journey is your own.