Most nights I have a terrible time falling asleep. My mind is never fully at rest. I turn on my ceiling fan…winter and summer…punch my pillow to mold it into my neck, pull up my quilt, get into position and close my eyes. It’s then I remember I have to phone Cynthia with directions to the restaurant we’re meeting at on Wednesday, work on a Letter of Recommendation for my granddaughter, and look for that Pet Insurance form that’s buried somewhere on my desk. So right then and there, I reach for the Post it Notes and pen on my end table, and write reminder notes, in the dark.But, my head continues to spin out of control with topic ideas for writing, decisions on whether to drive into Manhattan, take the train or bus, or get an Uber. It can be as much as 45 minutes before I fall asleep, and then I can count on getting up for the bathroom at least three times. Consequently, most days I walk around in a zombie-like state.
Last night was one of those rare exceptions. Last night I was exhausted. I’d had a particularly physical day and it knocked me out. I pulled the quilt up over me at 11:45 and conked out immediately.
At 12:15 I was awakened by a loud ringing sound. I jumped up from a deep sleep, reached over and smashed the button on my alarm clock. The ringing continued, so I reached for the phone. No one was there. Finally, I dragged myself, in what felt like a drug induced state, out of bed and across the room, where I realized the ringing sound was coming from inside my purse. It was my cell phone.
Who the hell would call after midnight?
I grabbed the phone and saw the words: FaceTime, Accept or Decline. As much as I use my cell phone for talking and for messaging, I have never used Face Time. Intentionally. I’m vain. If I were a younger version of myself I wouldn’t care one bit who saw what I look like waking up from a sound sleep, but I’m on the far, far, other side of fifty, and there’s no way in hell I will ever allow myself to be seen without first spackling the crevices on my face, and covering my head with a towel, because my hair looked like I’d stuck my finger in a light socket.
But, I was in a daze. I’d been awakened from a deep sleep. So, without thinking, I pushed “Accept,” and saw my granddaughter’s face. She appeared to be at a party, and having a good time…perhaps too good a time. She saw my face and yelled, “Hi, Grandma.”
Suddenly, I was wide awake and fully aware of what was happening. I sleep topless, and this girl had just seen her grandmother’s face, neck and naked chest, in a way she should never have had to. All I could think was, “Poor baby. She’s going to need therapy to erase that indelible picture from her mind.”
I disconnected, without uttering a sound.
As I stood there, wrapped in humiliation, I had a another thought — a more pleasant one. Odds are that she never saw anything more than my wrinkled face, neck and shoulders. My two main concerns were out of sight, roughly a foot down from my chin, resting on either side of my navel.