Have you ever had one of those nights when you just couldn’t sleep? Last night my mind was like a wild horse racing through every minute of the day, every person, every conversation, every problem, every burp and fart. Just running, running, running — running to nowhere. Should I get a cheaper apartment? Where will I park when I go to the eye doctor? Is my car too big? Should I get a smaller car? Why are my eyes always so bloodshot?
In bed in the dark, every ache and pain is cancer. Of course, I have cancer. Everybody has cancer. Why should I be any different? The headache behind my eye is a brain tumor. The red patch on my leg is skin cancer. The twinge of nerves in my hand is hand cancer. My skin tags are an invading army of itty bitty tumors that will soon devour my hidden parts. Just please let them stay hidden. I hate skin tags. One day I’ll just be an empty sack of clothes. Cancer will have eaten all of me and my skin tags will be homeless.
In the middle of the night, I could die of almost anything. I stare at the ceiling and imagine how my friends would find me dead in bed a couple days from now. Then I think about changing my t-shirt and putting on some nice underwear. I just bought these new bed sheets. Why wreck them just because I’m having a bad night? Maybe I should take down the shower curtain and sleep on that. Just in case the Grim Reaper stops by my apartment tonight and leaves a mess. I sleep better when I’m feeling prepared. Although I don’t know how well I would sleep on my shower curtain. Maybe I should get a new mattress pad. You know, the kind that’s waterproof, for children and old people, and people like me who suddenly die in bed.
Some nights are just like that. There weren’t enough hours in the day to process my life story, and it spills over into the dark when my dreams should be power washing my brain. But some nights my mind is just too busy to dream. I catalogue my wishes, inspect my regrets, and think about how things could have been different, on and on, like a running horse in a wide open space, so beautiful, so energetic, and so pointless. Running for the sake of running, toward the horizon, until the horse is too small to see, and I finally fall asleep.
Then I wake up. My skin tags have not amassed in one big clump on my face. My tumors are gone. That headache must have been, you know, just a headache. My eyes can see just fine. And I did not rip down my shower curtain to prepare for the Grim Reaper, who must have skipped over me, because here I am. Cool. I think it’s going to be a good day.