It's 2:26 in the morning.
I went to bed almost four hours ago and haven't fallen asleep once. There were a few times when I thought I felt the warm blackness of sleep creep across my brain, but it was nothing more than the cruel hand of insomnia teasing me.
My mind was a tornado of activity and it was my complete inability to shutter the blinds and ignore the whirlwind vortex of my daily, debilitating troubles that kept me awake.
I laid in my bed, an inflatable, twin-sized mattress. It was taller than most inflatable beds, but it had a slow leak somewhere and I had to reinflate it once a week. I had just done this earlier in the evening, so the bed was firm beneath my back.
The air was warm in my garage apartment and the window air conditioner unit rattled noisely on the other side of the narrow room. The hot, Florida night was too much for the old unit, and combined with my overactive mind, was surely the source of my insomnia.
The large, red numbers of my bedside clock informed me that it was 2:27. I rolled over, facing away from the clock, and closed my eyes.
I had done everything I could to try and facilitate this transistion from the waking world into that of blissful, restful sleep. It had been Sunday night when all of this began, and I had started drinking promptly at 6:30pm. Three Corona's by 7:05 and my eyelids had started to feel heavy, but sleep remained elusive.
I didn't let my roommates see my frustration. Monday morning was important to all of us: James had to be at his construction job at 6am; Frank had an interview 8:45 sharp, or-the-job-immediately-goes-to-one-of-the-seventeen-other-candidates-who-are-waiting-for-the-exact-same-interview; Lisa also had to get to work, teaching "life skills" at a day care for the mentally handicapped. And then there was me.
My alarm was set for 7am. My routine was to leave the house by 7:20 to get to my office job by 8am. I would stare at my computer screen for a good ten or fifteen minutes, pointlessly scrolling up and down my endless list of work-related emails, before I would finally open a browser window and start reading the day's news.
I needed to be awake by 7am. The plan, generally, was to go to sleep at 10.
Generally speaking, I'm a sleep whore. I can't get enough of it. My theory is that I sleep so much because my dream life is far more interesting than my real life. And when I'm dreaming, I can't really tell the difference anyway, so why not enjoy the dreams for everything they have to offer?
By 7:15 on Sunday evening I was mixing my first rum and Coke. My goal was not to get drunk, but to use the liquor to push the drowsiness over the edge so that I might properly enjoy my night of dreams.
I only added enough Coke to make the rum go down easily.
I can hold my alcohol well enough and three drinks later, at 8:10, the drowsiness had grown into lethargy.
My mind, however, was hyper-aware.
I bid my roommates goodnight and adjourned to my converted garage apartment and my inflatable bed and the noisy window air conditioner.
God, I wanted to slip into a dreamworld and escape this existance so badly.
I crashed on the mattress, felt it give entirely too much under my weight, and hauled myself back to my feet to reinflate it. A few minutes later, I was on my back, wearing a tank top and briefs, my eyes blissfully closed.
But sleep continued to elude me.
As the minutes ticked by, my mind raced around the simple fact that if I didn't get to sleep soon, I would be faced with a god-awful day at work. Misery knows no depths deeper than mentally unstimulating work for an exhausted, sleep-deprived brain.
It was shortly after ten when I rolled out of bed and turned on my computer to engage in the one sure-fire sleep aide that any man will attest to.
As I tried to focus on various images of pornographic activities, my hyper-active mind shifted focus, nearly unbeknowst to me, to thoughts of a lonely and desparate wanting.
There was no reason for me to be doing this. There was no reason for me not to have a girl here. A girl to hold, to fuck, to share a night-time journey full of dreams with. No reason, of course, except for my self-imposed celibacy.
Even with my hyper-aware mind racing down thoughts of an irrational sense of inadequacy, I finished myself off and returned to bed, ready to finally be done with this waking life.
The glowing red numbers on the clock taunted me. The pressing need to be awake in the morning mocked me.
Sleep continued to elude me.
By midnight, the lingering effects of my drinking had all but evaporated. The claws of my insomnia burrowed deep in my brain and I screamed out silently, desparately calling for the quiet peace and ignorance that my dreams afforded me.
It was like being completely removed from my life. A Get-Out-Of-Jail-Free card, if you will, that I got to cash-in on nightly basis. An escape from the disappointment, the failure, the overwhelming lack of drive and ambition--all for one night only, but act now or you'll miss out on a once-in-a-nighttime opportunity!
Was it too much to ask for?
I looked over at my clock just in time to see it click over to 2:26am.
It didn't seem like sleep would be coming any time soon. I was stuck in this waking world, stuck in this body and life, enveloped in the suffocating pointlessness of a meaningless existence without even the reprieve that a good night's sleep afforded.
... I hated being awake.