I am an inefficient grocery store shopper.
Case in point, I’ve been to Fresh Market twice in the past five days. As of this writing I’ll be having two medium-sized tomatoes and a small bag of almonds for dinner tonight.
I could fix this glitch. However, I consider my lack of pantry skills a charming personality quirk, just as I do my friend’s inability to step on sidewalk cracks.
A quirk I do not find charming is my now two month sleep ritual.
I wake at 3:30 am to a looping podcast in my head. Then I become hyper aware of house noises. This causes me to stay alert until the first commuter bus-of-the-day passes by. Which lets me fall back into a dream cycle for at least an hour.
In and of itself that is exhausting.
Add to this yoke is waking for a second time. It’s like gingerly navigating a thick London fog, aware but sightless.
So last night I went off the grid. The TV stayed off. I left my phone charging in the other room. Laptop closed. No podcasts. Ears free.
I went under Mum’s handmade green and white blanket, rested my head on three soft pillows and stared at the bedroom ceiling fan.
As I waited, I thought about my Dad.
I carry the essence of my father with me every moment of every day. I have a photos above the kitchen sink of him playing cards, on the Derry Wall in Ireland, marrying Mum.
To keep him healthy I stay away from the hospital images, but they seem to creep in regardless. I stopped those memories by thinking about when my father used to ring.
Everytime my Dad rang he had this gallant New England/Irish old timey way of saying hello. It usually went something like: Say Pal. It is I. Your father speaking. It’s been awhile, and I want to check in on my favourite daughter. So. How’s my only girl doing?
I’ve been the only girl in a sea of boys my entire life. By virtue of being one I am the best AND the worst, and it makes me smile when my family lovingly throws this fact into any conversation. That line has never gotten old.
I’m okay, Dad. I miss you too.
Still awake, I thought about Vicky.
Vicky is our dog, who was an honourary 8th member of our family. A terrier mix, she had long ears that flopped when she ran. She was quiet, had sparkling brown eyes and was big on kisses.
She had hers too: She buried doggie biscuits throughout my parents’ property. Adorable I tell you.
She died over ten years ago, and is now a huge part of my dreams.
Like the bestest friend you can have, Vicky barrels into my sleep and we go on adventures through fields as if we were Huck and Tom. It’s always similar. It’s always fun. Every time Vicky visits, I wake with joy.
On selfish nights I think Vicky’s name, hoping she’ll hear me and come. Sometimes she does. Sometimes I don’t remember. I called her last night.
As Dad and Vicky swirled, random thoughts flashed through my mind.
At some point, I closed my eyes.
Then I opened my eyes, and it was morning.
There was the ceiling fan. My pillows under my head. My Mum’s heavy knit blanket still on me. I was comfortably warm.
I sat up. Weightless. Untethered. I was content, steady and sure. Like my phone in the other room, I was 100% charged.
I smiled and thought: And don’t you forget this.
I went to the bathroom and looked in the mirror, pleased with my bedhead.