Jesse and I fell asleep with the curtains open last night. We were talking and our bedroom light felt harsh and unnecessary so I turned it off and opened the curtains.
Our eyes quickly adjusted to the dark. It was a relief to settle by the light of the snow and the moon. When I woke up and saw the sun glowing off the tops of the neighboring homes I wondered why we don’t sleep this way more often.
I will be taking Jesse to O’Hare tomorrow morning. He’s headed to Columbus, Ohio for a few days. I’m thinking of trying to sleep with the curtains open while he’s gone. I just have to muster the courage to do it. Sleeping with the curtains open is easy when there is someone next to you; less so if you’re alone.
Prior to being married, I had roommates in college and for a few years after that. Those were some fun years but when I turned 25, I wanted to be cool like Mary Tyler Moore and decided to try living alone. Huge mistake because I was literally scared every single night for nine years, right up until the day I got married. I’m not exaggerating: I was perpetually frightened at night.
I had my reasons.
My first “solo” apartment had roaches. I learned this when I returned home from a rehearsal late one night. I opened the door, turned on the light and saw several roaches scatter across the walls of my kitchen. I nearly fainted. I was terrified that they’d crawl on my face so I slept with the lights on for several months until I found a new place to live.
Next, I moved to a tiny house. It was roach-free, but the neighborhood was riddled with criminal activity. One night, somebody shot out the windows of my car. Somehow, that was less terrifying than living with roaches. But I did wonder if someone was trying to send me a message. Insurance replaced my windows but nothing could restore my faith in humanity. After that incident, I was robbed three separate times before I finally got the message.
I moved to a “California studio” apartment on the second floor. I felt a little safer up there, but a prostitute lived below me. It wasn’t uncommon to hear her pimp threatening her life. I called 911 frequently to report the sickening sounds of their altercations, but the police never came. One day the yelling was louder than usual and I heard glass shattering. Once again, I called the police and this time they came. The next morning, the window was boarded up, there was yellow crime tape over the door and I never saw the woman again.
All those years, I was afraid roaches would crawl on me or a robber would break in and instead of just steal my Ramones CDs, actually kill me. I was afraid the pimp would storm up the stairs and slash me. I never slept with the curtains or blinds open back then. I barely slept.
Married for 17 years, I confess I have taken a few things for granted including feeling wholly safe and protected while I am asleep. Some strands of fear and insecurity still tickle my mind and heart, especially at night, but for the most part, I can sleep. Let’s see if I can keep those curtains open while Jesse’s in Ohio. -Connie