Paul and I haven’t been getting much sleep lately.
Okay, yeah, there’s that. (What are you giggling at?) But there are also a whole slew of other, less enjoyable reasons for our recent insomnolence. It all started about a month ago when Caleb developed a sudden and unexplained fear of the dark and wouldn’t get up to go to the bathroom without yelling for one of us to get up and turn on the light for him first. His little bladder fills up twice a night, like clockwork. We tried cutting back on his liquids, which actually did reduce the number of nocturnal bathroom visits. Now, instead of calling out for us to turn on the light so he can go potty, he wakes up moaning about how thirsty he is and asking for drinks of water.
Then, a couple of weeks ago, the kids’ internal clocks went haywire, and they started waking up at 5:30 (an hour and a half before our alarm), ready to get out of bed for the day. At first we told them they could turn their light on and read while Paul and I caught a few more winks, but “read quietly” doesn’t translate exactly into kid language. The closest approximation is “get up and do whatever you want with steadily increasing volume until a sleep-deprived parent bursts in, roaring, with dark circles carved deeply under its eyes and smoke curling from its nose.”
Throw into the mix a few late night events (LAN, anyone?) and a three a.m. trip to the airport, and you can understand why I cry every time I see that beautiful, bittersweet Lunesta commercial. (Cruel, cruel butterfly.)
Last night, about half past midnight, Paul and I were peacefully snoring away (still two blissful hours to go before Caleb’s first potty alarm) when a sudden knocking on the front door jerked both of us out of sleep. We waited, not sure what had startled us. The knocking came again, more urgent this time, and Paul leapt out of bed and started for the door, me trailing along behind him, hissing helpful advice like “Ask who it is before you open the door!” and “Wait till I find the pepper spray!”
Early morning knocks at the door just turn your composure on its ear. Who could it be? Police? Fireman? Ambulance? Friend? Your heart hammers in your chest and every terrible possibility known to man crosses your mind at once. As we advanced on the door, I mentally prepared myself for worst case scenarios, wondering whether I should leap for my cell phone or the butcher knives first if the hand doing the knocking turned out to belong to a fugitive from America’s Most Wanted.
“Who is it?” Paul called out. There was no answer. He called a little louder: “Who’s there?”
“It’s your next door neighbor,” came a woman’s tentative voice. Paul opened the door halfway, carefully keeping a foot braced behind it just in case there was someone in addition to the voice’s owner outside. She was alone, though, an attractive, fortyish woman in pajamas and bathrobe, asking if she could use our phone because she couldn’t find hers. I didn’t recognize her as a neighbor, although we know everyone in our building. There was a vacancy in her stare and a telltale stumbling over her words that made it clear she was well on her way through a bottle of something, and though I felt bad about it, I told her I couldn’t let her inside at this time of night, since we didn’t know her. “I know, I know,” she kept repeating, “it’s okay.” Instead, I handed her my cell phone to use on the porch.
We stood there, the three of us, while she called someone, asking him if he could come over. It sounded like he said no. She seemed to be holding back tears as she handed us back the phone, swaying a little on her feet. Paul asked her if she was okay. After a pause, during which I thought she might not have heard him, she said, “Not really, no.” He asked where she lived. She told us her apartment number. It turned out she was a neighbor, after all, just from another building. She seemed to be unfocused, rooted to our porch and unable to decide what to do next. Worried and uncertain, I asked her if she was hurt. “No.” “Are you in danger of being hurt if you go home?” I asked her, thinking maybe a domestic disturbance had driven her out of her apartment. Another “No.” Then after a pause, “Not physically, anyway.”
Paul asked her for her name, and that seemed to jar her out of her reverie. “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. I think I’ve been drinking too much. You know how that is.” Paul kindly asked her name again, and she turned and fled, as if suddenly aware of where she was.
Bewildered, we closed the door behind her.
We went back to bed, but, as exhausted as I was, it took me a very long time to close my eyes.
(After she left, Paul dialed the number she had called from my phone, explained to the friend who he was and what had happened, and asked him to make sure she got home okay. He said he would.
Today, I went over to her apartment to see if she was all right. When I rang the bell, I saw the blinds move as someone peered out at me. Right after that, the lights went out inside and no one ever answered the door. I imagine either 1)she recognized me and was so embarrassed that she decided to pretend she wasn’t home or 2)she didn’t recognize me and was afraid I was a fugitive from America’s Most Wanted.
I still wonder-what should I have done?)