On Thanksgiving, it was 67 degrees and we took a lovely bike ride.
Three days later, it’s winter and I wake up freezing.
Usually my husband turns the heat down at night, and it kicks on every few hours. It’s faux New England–you know, the habit of preppy people who supposedly like a cold house at night. He likes winter camping. I like it warm.
We’re in favor of conserving energy, but last night he turned off the heat. It’s very uncomfortable when you wake up early in the morning and can’t find any more blankets. But if I turn on the heat it will wake him up. He’s an insomniac. REALLY. And I don’t want to wake him.
It is so cold that even under flannel sheets, two blankets, and two comforters I wake up shivering. I get up. I change from my light flannel pajamas into heavy blue flannel pajamas with repeating polar bears. These have always been too hot to sleep in.
The polar bear pajamas have a negligible effect. My shoulders and arms are still cold. So I get up and throw on a sweatshirt. And then a couple of fleecy things.
I don’t know where the sleeping bags are.
I know I’m not getting back to sleep, so I go to the living room with my copy of Valley of the Dolls, since I might as well enjoy my insomnia, and don my parka. I love the character Anne Wells, a sweet young woman with good values, educated at Radcliffe, thrilled in 1945 to have escaped from her deadly hometown, Lawrenceville, “about an hour from Boston by train,” to a rooming house in New York City. The girl at the employment agency tells her to find a husband. And when Anne says husbands are a dime a dozen, the witty gal says,
“Say, where did you say you’re from? It is in America, isn’t it?”
“Lawrenceville…And if I had wanted a husband I could have stayed right there. In Lawrenceville everyone gets married as soon as they get out of school. I’d like to work for a while first.”
I’m fascinated by Anne’s friends, Neely, a dancer and chorus girl, and Jennifer, divorced from a prince, an aspiring actresses.
But you know, it’s really cold in this house. And finally I CAN’T keep reading.
HE’S SNORING. IT’S HIM OR ME.
I turn on the heat.
And he wakes up immediately.
So I’m dedicating Statius’s poem to him.
And I bought a blanket today.
Statius, Silvae 5.4, translated by Kathleen Coleman
What is the charge, young god, what have I done
Alone to be denied, in desperate straits,
Epitome of Calm, your treasure, Sleep?
Hush holds enmeshed each herd, fowl, prowling beast;
The trees, capitulating, nod to aching sleep:
The raging floods relinquish their frim roar;
The heavy sea has ceased and oceans curl
Upon the lap of land to sink in rest.
The moon has now in seven visits seen
My wild eyes staring; seven stars of dawn
And twilight have returned to me
And sunrise, transient witness of distress,
Has in compassion sprayed dew from her whip.
Where is the strength I need? It would defeat
The consecrated Argus, thousand-eyed,
Despite the watch which one part of him keeps,
Nerves taut, on guard relentlessly.
On Sleep, some couple, bodies interlocked,
Must shut you from their night-long ecstasy;
So come to me. I issue no demand
that you enfold my eyes’ gaze with your wings —
Let all the world, more fortunate, beg that.
Your wand-tip’s mere caress, your hovering form
Poised lightly on tiptoe; that is enough.