I can hear the scrape of the shovel on the drive out front as Craig hauls a foot of snow off the driveway and onto the lawn. I got some freaky ass email from a neighbor that some young man in a shitty white truck fired three gun shots into the air while her son and three friends were playing in the snow earlier today. So I’ve propped the front door open and asked Craig not to play his headphones too loud while he works. If he needs to make a quick escape into the house, all entrances are ready to receive him.
I stood at the window and watched him shovel for about 20 minutes. He didn’t see me, but I liked watching him work. So methodical. So uncomplaining. So precise and even-keeled. He’s a wonder, my husband. I liked watching him work in the dark like that. I kept my eyes on the driveway willing the snow to stop falling so he could look back when he was done and see a big long strip of black pavement between the snow drifts he was creating. No traces of the next shoveling job to come sprinkling the drive.
I’ve got less than 8 weeks to go until our third son is born. Supposedly less than 8 weeks, but it might be more. Probably will be. My third trimester insomnia is settling in nicely. Each night there are these long periods where I find myself unwillingly awake and just sort of churning out random thoughts at a rapid pace. Sometimes I try to slow my breathing and do counting exercises or pray an autopiloted rosary, but often it ends up making me feel even more tense and then I become aware of my breathing in a way you’re not supposed to be and then breathing becomes voluntary rather than involuntary. And that is always such a discomfort.
When my breathing gets that way, I’ll just flip over to my other side. When I was little, I used to think that if I laid on my right side, the left side of my brain had more room to be active and vice versa. So if I was on my left side, my thinking was right-brained. And if I lay on my right side, I was left-brained. And while there is obviously no scientific basis for this belief of mine, I still sort of follow it and, when out of sorts mentally, just flip myself over to air out the other side of my brain. Sometimes it even works.
Each pregnancy seems to have an insomnia theme. Though I don’t know that I could tell you what the theme was for Sam or Henry, just that I know there was one. This pregnancy, the insomnia centers around regrets. I think about things I’ve regretted saying. And every time I think about them, I feel ashamed.
One I often think about is from years ago when I was at a family reunion. My family is huge and we all went around and said our names because there were so many of us who didn’t know each other. I was the first in my immediate family to speak, and I introduced myself with both my mother’s maiden name and my father’s name too. And then my mother went right after me and used only my father’s name and I boiled with shame — like I had not only embarrassed myself but that I had embarrassed my father somehow. It had never even been my name, yet I claimed it, as if his name alone was not enough for me.
Another time I think of often is when my grandmother, who was dying, called me in to sit with her on her bed to go through her jewelry. She was giddy about it, like a schoolgirl. It’ll be so much fun! And she had so much there. I wanted her to be happy. And I wanted her to know that I wanted whatever she cared to give me. Whatever little trinket she left with me was of value and I didn’t much care what it looked like. She kept pressing things into my hands and asking me to inspect them. Did I like it? Would I wear it? Do I want it? I just kept saying yes. I like this. Yes. I’ll wear this. Yes, I want it. And then something shifted in the air and it wasn’t fun for her anymore and she laughed this barky kind of laugh and and said something like “Well, I think you’ve got your fair share, don’t you?” I was mortified. She read me wrong in that moment but there was no way to correct it and I just sort of slunk out of the room, my hands bulging with her valuables that I never wear, but just keep in the velvet pouch that she put them in. The pouch still smells of her cigarettes and perfume. Once a year, I open it and inhale her scent, praying each time I pull the string that it’ll still be there. But she died thinking that I was somehow glad to finally get my hands on her jewelry, which will always be a source of sadness for me. Unfixable.
I’ve just finished reading The Age of Miracles. Which was a lovely little book. So melancholy, but I enjoy that. I have The Passage up next. Two books about the end of the word right in a row. Not doing my insomnia any favors, am I?