I know that's not early for some people, but it's extremely early for me. I'm not lazy, but I work from home and I'm a bit of a night owl, often not getting to bed before 2:00 or even 3:00 AM. I try to get up at 9:00. This all sounds more decadent than it really is. I don't generally get that much sleep.
So yeah. 5:30. AM.
And of course, waking up itchy does funny things to a paranoid mind like mine, and even though I had no reason to do so, as soon as I noticed my itchiness, I immediately started thinking bedbugs. And after that, I couldn't sleep at all.
We don't have bedbugs. Of COURSE we don't have bedbugs! There is no evidence that we have bedbugs. There has never been any indication that we have had bedbugs. WE HAVE NO BITES. So I know this is crazy, and I know we don't have bedbugs, and nonetheless, I live in constant fear, constantly vigilant always thinking we do, or rather, that even if we don't right now, that we eventually will.
It's a bit like hypochondria. If we stay at a hotel, I immediately start thinking that we're going to bring them home with us. When riding the subway, I think about them crawling out from between the seats, hitching a ride in the folds of my hoodie. I read about bedbugs existing in my city ( which, of course, they do, since this place is home to about five million people) and I picture the little beasts hopping in my direction*. Determinedly. As if it was me they wanted. Me in particular.
You can see, I'm sure, how Nutty McNutterson this is. Even now, as I write this, I'm itchy. I feel like I have creepies crawling all over me, though clearly, I don't. That's just how my mind works. I just have to think the word bedbugs and I get itchy. And all my constant vigilance doesn't help in the slightest. (Constant vigilance never does, you know. That's a little life wisdom from me to you.)
So yeah. My day was getting grosser by the minute.
But really, I'm not judging any of this too harshly (besides the oglers). I spent good portion of my Starbucks visit grouching quietly myself. I brooded about all the things that have annoyed me lately, spending a little time prodding and worrying each one. A few of these things, in no particular order, are as follows:
1. The fact that my Rogers internet keeps going out, and that ever since we got a new modem a couple of weeks ago, I am constantly disconnecting from the network. For no apparent reason. We pay them a fortune every month and never do we get what we ostensibly pay for. I get that this is not a big deal in the grand scheme of things, but it annoys me nonetheless.
2. The fact that random dudes I used to vaguely know in high school sometimes talk about me. (And if this sounds weird to you, let me assure you that it sounds weird to me too.) I have this one friend -- bit of a turd-stirrer, you know the type -- who reported, for some reason, that my name had been coming up in some of his discussions with his high school-era Bruhs. He texted this to me, punctuated the news with two different emoticons: :o and ;). Because ...??? I don't know. It was weird. Maybe he was teasing. Or maybe he was trying to bait me. I don't know. Of course, he didn't report much about what was actually said. (Bros before ... nevermind.) Just that I came up, and that one dude regularly challenges him about remaining friends with me, while another quietly reads my blog even though it makes him "angry." So. Okay. Nate has always lived in the same city, and is still friends with many of the same people he knew when he was young, so I asked him if this seems normal to him. Does he, I asked, ever discuss women he knew back in the day? Here's exactly what he said in response: "You're asking me if, when I get together with guys from high school, do any of us ever bring up random girls from high school in conversation? No. Of course not. That would be extremely bizarre." So there's that.
3. Finally, the fact that the word "family" is so often reserved for use only for people with children. I was having dinner with an older person early this week who suggested that some young folks she knows had gotten married, probably because they "wanted to have a family". And to that, I thought, WTF? What old-fashioned garbage nonsense is this? Look, plenty of people assumed that Nate and I got married as a precursor to spawn (and even gossiped about how I must have been pregnant to get hitched so quickly). As if such a notion were not completely at odds with my world view. As if you need to, or even "should" be married to have a child. Rubbish idea, that. And then, just the misuse of that word -- "family." It irks me. I haven't pushed one out, but that doesn't mean I don't have a family, okay? I have a goddamn family. (Sorry to be the language police, but some people are really weird about what is and isn't a "family" and it makes me mad.)
Blah blah rah bah ha. See? Grouch grouch grouch. Over nothing, really. That's what happens when you get only a few hours of sleep. (Now I know this post is long, but hang on, it's about to take a turn, possibly for the better.)
I was in England. I was about a week into my exchange (or 1/2 year abroad or whatever you want to call it). I was in a very small gym, "shooting baskets" by myself, even though I'm just about the worst basketball player in the known universe. I was listening to the radio. The BBC. It was the early afternoon. I heard about the first plane then. And a little later, back in the residence, while chatting with my friend Nick on MSN messenger, I heard about the second plane. And then I saw the video. Soon after that, the internet and phones went down. And most of us, students, relative strangers, packed into the common rooms and glued ourselves to CNN. And talked. That's how we got to know each other.
So I was far from home, and I remember the day's punctuation marks and the timeline, but the truth is, when I think about this day, thirteen years ago, I think about my friends. I think about how September 11th made me make friends. I am not always the most outgoing person, and I'd spent much of my first few days in England alone. Hiding in my dorm room alone. Exploring alone. I like being alone, so this isn't unusual for me. I'm the one called "anti-social" because I felt more comfortable with my door closed. (And locked, frankly.) But then there was this thing that happened -- this thing that felt scary and that we had no perspective on whatsoever -- and I was unsettled and it made me (and lots of other people, I believe), make friends fast and hard, in a way that we might not have otherwise. Two of the women I met then still feel like some of my closest friends today, even though we almost never see each other, and rarely find the time to talk.
As I walked home today, still in the early morning (relatively speaking), storm clouds were above, but moving fast. The air was cool, and the wind was blowing hard. The streets were wet after a night full of rain. Not having slept, I was tired. And after my morning of grouching, you'd think that being reminded of today's politically-charged significance would make me even more grouchy, but it didn't. Remembering the date, I stopped thinking about irritating language, and blog lurkers from high school, and Rogers, and imaginary bedbugs. And instead, I thought about my old friends, who will be here in less than 48 hours, and whom I love. And that made me happy.
*Bedbugs don't really hop. Relax.