When el Guapo first got to our current Valencian apartment there were no resident timepieces–no glowing numbers on a microwave or range, no wall clocks. So I gathered up a couple of non-essentials from home, and we now have a little clock in the kitchen, and another in the hall.
Actually, the hall clock was filling a vital function–formerly perched in the bathroom at home, its job was to help Loquita remember to get out of the shower while there was still a little hot water left for someone else. But as she’s now here, I felt fine about the clock abandoning its post.
With those two clocks plus the ones inhabiting the margins of our various electronic devices, we can now hardly be considered clockless, except when laptops are closed, and lights are out. And now we come to it.
From time to time I find myself wakeful for long stretches at night. When I’m home, there’s a digital clock that I can see from my bed, so I tend to mark the passage of the hours. Here, as I turn from one side to the other, rearranging blankets, considering the sounds in the night, there’s no clock to tell me how long I’ve been awake while wishing to be asleep. And, because I have a lot of time for thinking during those stretches, I think about knowing and not knowing. Is it better to contemplate glowing numbers as the hours advance, or to stare up into the dark and wonder?
With no point of reference, it can feel like I’ve been awake most of the night. I had that feeling last night, though I can remember fragments of several dreams (Limonada getting a ticket for running a stop sign, for one–I was glad to wake up from that), so I know I really had to have been asleep for at least some time.
With a clock in the room, I can see 2:30 am become 3, then 3:30, and so on toward 5:30 (three hours is a common length), and I know I haven’t been awake all night, but I wonder if knowing just how much sleep I’m losing might be making me feel worse.
I knew a young woman in college who decided that she was tired of feeling ruled by the clock all the time, so she stopped wearing a watch. As it turned out, she reported that she spent a lot of timing looking for clocks in different places, or stopping people to ask them what time it was.
My sister Robbyn uses the phrase “up in the night” to mean that someone is clueless. I’m certainly not at my mental best either while I’m up in the night, or when trying to function on little sleep the next day. My good friend Annie writes one of my favorite blogs, and she has an interesting post giving a historical perspective to being up in the night. I encourage you to check it out here.
Are you ever wakeful for long stretches when you wish you were asleep? Do you watch the clock, or refuse to look?