I surface without awakening to what sailors call a flat calm, windless, waveless; and what psychiatrists call a life-saving, Seroquel-induced sleep.  I have been dreaming, or am I still?  My love was in the room with me.  There were others too--trusted friends.  They had pulled their chairs close around the bed, and were playing cards, talking softly and laughing, waiting for me to wake.  Comforting voices.  

Sinking again, still struggling, longing for a breath of conscious air.  The surface is gummed with a rime of sleep--this is the drug's protective layer around my brain.  It's doing what it was meant to do, what I pray for it to do.  It is so thick I cannot break it, but I can see--I can hear.  He is here with me, or we are in another place, and he is walking fast and my heart is skipping to keep up.  He has bought us pizza, and in the way of dreams it's apple cinnamon pizza and we are off to the carnival to eat it on the ferris wheel.  I know the carnival, I built the place.  My Bengal tiger is there, and the manticore, and Isis and Rumi and a liger who reads Rushdie.  But a dangerous mix of relief and dread has entered the dream; my love is walking too fast.  He won't speak to me.  And again I am rising, fighting for the surface.  

I struggle against the cloying rime which is growing thinner now and, taking hold of the ropes and pulleys in this theatre of my drug-addled brain, I labor and grind alone until the massive curtain parts and one dazed eye opens. I am not on the ferris wheel; not skipping through the alleys of the carnival; I am lying face-up in bed, limbs sprawled.  But still I hear soft voices (those must be my friends, here to comfort me when I wake) and I feel the weight of him sitting next to me.  And here he is, bending to stroke my hair.  You alright?  Breathing better now?  

It lasts for a moment--a rush, a flood of relief--that all is well, I am not alone, I will not have to do this by myself today.  There will be companionate love, connection, someone to hold the other end of the rope.  And those soft voices in the background; I sink into their embrace.  Yes, I'm alright.  Everyone is here.

But it's not quite right and I know it, deep down where the drug hasn't quite managed to lull me.  I go back to the ropes and pulleys, go back through the motions (baby steps to the opening of the eyes, baby steps to getting out of bed) and haul back the curtains some more, and when the light comes in, reality hits.  There is no one in here but me, a messy bed and a peacefully sleeping beast of a dog who is certainly not playing cards or stroking my hair or joining me at the carnival.  

Baby steps over to the dog, where I weep into his hair in a ritual that, to him, has become simply part of his day.  

But now, after all, there is sunlight coming through the windows, and there is breakfast to be eaten and there are friends to be called and this is how I live, here at the surface, here on the lifeboat which, after all, is more crowded than I thought.  I will be grateful--I will choose to give thanks.

KB © 3/17/2013


  1. your descriptions make me feel it too. i'm touched and impressed at your resilient end

    you inspire


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