Playing to the fringes...

While I was sitting awake, my insomnia kicking in, trying to get back into my most recent Chuck Palahniuk book, Diary (so far, eh...), I noticed something. Something that even I recognize as odd about myself. And if you've been visiting here often, you know that odd is normal for me. But I digress. Okay, here it is: Even though I have a queen-sized bed, I sleep almost exclusively on one side, the right side.

I don't know why I do this. It's not as though I've ever truly share this bed with anyone. Sure, my alarm clock is on the side I sleep on, making it easier for me to smack the snooze button in the morning, but is that really a reason to abandon a full side of my bed? Have I neglected the left side of my bed? Is the reason for my insomnia some type of jealousy, where the left side of my bed has conspired with the right side to wake me in the middle of the night unless I share the love with the left? Is there some type of bed-related politics where my bed is telling me that my campaign for sleep has passed the primaries, and, after initially campaigning to the fringe, I now need to refocus on the center? Have I unfairly written off the left side, wrongly and hastily concluding that its tree-hugging ways would be less comfortable and familiar as the right? Am I a right-side snob, or worst yet, a left-side bigot?

The other strange thing I've realized is that, for some reason, I relinquish pillows to the unused side of my bed. Now, I'm a guy, so I don't have "decoration pillows," a phenomenon deserving of a post all on its own. No. I have four pillows on my bed and they are all what I will dub "utility pillows." In other words, each of these four pillows is useful for more than decorative purposes. Two are those funky bean pillows in sham cases, the type that mold to the head to give the neck constant support. The other two are full and soft cushy pillows, the kind that support the head and double as something to hug while sleeping (note the earlier reference to not actually sharing my bed...).

But strangely, two of these pillows, one bean sham and one white cushy, spend their time predominately unused, residing on the lonely left side of my bed. Occasionally, I'll grab one and bring it to the right side for the night. But, it feels like I'm just borrowing it, as though I were borrowing a yard tool from a neighbor, taking it temporarily from its left side home for a short job and then returning it, sometimes later than I should have. And in the morning, the first thing I do is return it to the left side and fluff it back to its original cushyness.

And there those two pillows sit. Either happily or lonely on the unused left side of my bed.

Maybe I should change my strategy. Maybe I should move more to the left. Maybe I will discover that I'm really a centrist sleeper and that my bed has been trying to tell me something all along.

Eh, screw it. I'm too tired to do anything different.


Days of future past...

The other night I was out at a bar with one of my friends and a few of her friends. When a couple of her friends showed up with an attractive, albeit less than brilliant, girl, I took the opportunity to practice my flirting skills. I knew that it wasn't going anywhere, but figured that it was as good a way to pass the time as anything else that evening. And that belief was confirmed when I learned this girl was more than a decade my junior.

My friend was rather merciless in her later criticism since I had spent so much time talking to a girl who, as she said, "has no more than three brain cells that are constantly at war with one another." Certainly, this girl wasn't a genius by any means, and one of the most attractive qualities I find in a woman is a sharp intellect.

However, as I talked to this girl, I was fascinated by something about her, although I couldn't figure out what it was at the time. Only later did it occur to me that what I found so intriguing about talking to this girl was that in a very real way, this girl had her entire life ahead of her.

As a young adult, who has chosen my career path and likely will stay in the same profession or something related to it for the rest of my life, I take that part of my life for granted. I'm always going to either practice law or engage in some related profession. I'm always going to have things related to work and I'm always going to have to travel on vacations.

However, this girl hadn't made that choice yet. She wasn't tied down by her job, her professional development, and, most importantly, her bills. She has all these hopes and dreams and plans that she was---or at least believed she was---on the cusp of fulfilling. She had places she wanted to see, things she wanted to do, concepts she wanted to learn, people she wanted to meet.

And for someone who sometimes feels they spend each morning heading to the salt mines, in many ways, this was refreshing. Listening to this girl's anticipation and joy when considering her life ahead was a feeling I had forgotten and her excitement was almost contagious.

So, while this flirtatious conversation may have made me the butt of my friend's jokes, I really didn't care. This conversation was worthwhile, even if it was just the pleasantness of seeing a part of myself I've lost in someone else, and even it was in someone I'll probably never speak to again.


A quiet new year...

I awoke on January 1st of this year to my first of a number of phone calls. The first sounded something like this:

Friend A: "Dude! You awake?"

Me: "Uh....yeah, yeah, I think so."

Friend A: "Oh my G-d! What a crazy night!"

Me: "Oh yeah?"

Friend A: "Yeah, I got totally hammered and you're never going to believe who I woke up with this morning!"

Me: "Uh, your girlfriend?"

Friend A: "Try again..."

Me: "Whoa."

Then I got this call:

Friend B: "I wasn't very good last night."

Me: "I think I just had this conversation."

Friend B: "I don't know what you mean."

Me: "Never mind. Go on. You were being bad..."

Friend B: "Yeah, guess who I didn't have sex with last night."

Me: "Well, you aren't in the same city as me, so I'm pretty sure I'm not on that list."

Friend B: "No smartass! Guess who I almost had sex with, but didn't."

Me: "Um...maybe you should just tell me the story..."

Then this call:

Friend C: "Geez..."

Me: "Geez what?"

Friend C: "I thought she'd never leave."

Me: "So, you had a good time with the New Year's date, eh?"

Friend C: "Yeah, until this morning and she decided to monopolize my bathroom."

Me: "Did everyone have oysters at their New Year's parties or something?"

It seemed that I was the only person on the planet who didn't get lucky on New Year's Eve.

I've spent a lot of New Year's Eve's out, but, perhaps because, as a teen, my parents never let me leave the house because they were concerned that the unnamed, unfaced drinkers were taking the opportunity to use a holiday to get smashed and hop behind the wheel, I was used to staying home. And this New Year's, when it became evident most of my friends were partying out of town, I decided to revert to my old ways. I figured it would be a quiet night at home, lying in bed, reading a book I had promised I would finish. I didn't think my phone would ring.

And I certainly didn't expect that it would be Alecia.

For Alecia, New Year's Eve isn't about renewal and resolutions. It's haunting. And it's painful. Two years ago, Alecia's mother and her mother's boyfriend were viciously and savagely attacked by a drug addict, beaten within an inch of their lives.

And, from her window, Alecia saw it all. Her body frozen as her eyes were unable to comprehend the sheer horror she was witnessing.

So, for her, New Year's isn't a time where she looks forward. It's a time where she's forced to look back.

And it's not something anyone would want to see.

Knowing this and knowing that she had spent the evening with her family, when Alecia called, I didn't know what to expect.

"I just left my family. When I left, my mom hugged me. For a really long time. And then she said, 'I love you' in a different way then she usually does."

"Yeah, I can understand that."

Alecia had just gotten home and decided that she just wanted to get ready for bed and wake up in the new year.

But with this beginning to our conversation, I thought we'd start talking about two years ago, but we didn't. We just talked. Talked like we had so many times before, two friends just talking and laughing. She was lying in her bed. I was lying in mine. She was dishing out her sass. I was responding in kind with my incendiary irreverence. We were thousands of miles away from one another, but here we were, having pillow talk. Even though we couldn't see one another, we knew we were both smiling.

And, in a strange way, it felt like I was there with her. Just there. If she needed me.

Honestly, it was one of the most memorable New Year's Eves I had ever had.

I guess I was pretty lucky after all.