“You think you have a memory; but it has you!” – John Irving
My roomie at Readers Studio 2015 in New York is so bright and gifted. All she asked for was the bed by the window. I was happy to oblige; nearer the bathroom, nearer the window, both have their advantages. The New York LaGuardia Marriott has really comfortable rooms with perhaps the exception of not quite enough electrical outlets next to the beds for modern life’s plethora of gadgetry. We worked around it and were mindful of not getting in each other’s way.
I was especially mindful of being an extrovert in a world where 50% of the people are introverts. Rattling on, even in a friendly way meant to bond with your roomie, can be a nightmare to an introvert who just. Wants. A. Decent. Night’s. Rest. We talked into the night the first night we arrived about Tarot, astrology, life experiences, travel experiences, recovery from injuries, youth and age. I liked my friend more the more I got to know her, to my secret delight.
You can imagine my reticence to have a roommate for the first time who is not adequately prepared for my “active” nighttime activities. Oh, it’s all completely involuntary. I at least warn people about the snoring. Snoring is such a mild term for it. Rain describes the gentle mists of northern California and the violent thunderstorms that would walk my toiletries off my dresser in Illinois. My snoring is so little like the former, so much like the latter, like the roar of jet engines and not like a glider, like the shriek of a banshee not the twitter of songbirds. Yeah, I snore.
My roomie also was “entertained” by the talking. I’ve talked in my sleep since I was little. My mother, the extreme introvert certain she had spawned a monster extrovert, would hear me in the night and my running monolog, sometimes understandable but always with its own context. She would come to my “rescue” to pick me up from the terrazzo floor where I had fallen from bed and ask, “Are you all right?”
“Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera,” I would proclaim in deep profundity and very sound sleep.
Her theory was that as an extrovert, that alien creature to her, the changeling the fairies had left when no one was watching, I had just never gotten everything said during the day and was obligated to finish up all conversation at night. All night. Every night.
But of course there was more. These are not particularly my memories, but rather those of my—shall we call them victims?
I come by it naturally, I suppose, I explained to my good and patient roomie. After all, both Mom and Daddy snored to beat the band. Mom would wake herself up snoring and hit Daddy, certain he was the reason for her waking. It made perfect sense to me why some married people slept in separate quarters. I considered it a matter of self-preservation. Mom could pack quite a wallop.
Somewhere along the way, I learned that my uncle was a sleepwalker and would appear in the kitchen or living room with a midnight sandwich, eat it—or not—and return to his bed with no memory of his adventures the next day.
I have wondered if the filters that should be on in ordinary people that are off in me and perhaps members of my family are part of the thing that helps me read cards. More likely, though, I just snore, thrash, laugh, whistle, chatter and occasionally cast out demons as just one of the “features” of my personal software. I don’t remember most of it myself but I still have stories.
When my first marriage began to fail, there were occasions when I either punched him or kneed him in the nose and woke up first apologizing, then giggling, then apologizing. Perhaps that was thinly-disguised resentment at being told constantly that I was inadequate. No matter. We divorced and both relatively unscathed.
About that same time, my father called me at work one bright day and asked, “Are you…OK?” “Of course, I said,” surprised and confused at his mid-day call and his note of concern. “Why?”
“You sounded funny last night,” he said. I could hear from his voice that he had set his jaw in his typical offset way that signaled there was more to the story.
“I didn’t talk to you last night,” I protested, doubt growing as I spoke every word so much that it might have been a question.
“Oh,” he started to snicker. “Oh, yes you did!”
To this day I don’t know what I said to him but I have the feeling it wasn’t particularly the sort of conversation a father wants to hear from his never-in-his-eyes-grown daughter. All I can say is, sorry about that, Pops!
A few months after that, I remember waking up to hanging up the telephone, once again talking to someone in my sleep. This time I don’t know who it was but as I was hanging up and laughing uproariously I had the strange feeling that it was a crank call with sexual overtones. I’m not sure if I hoped it was one of my friends or a complete but creepy stranger; I don’t know which is better.
I’m grateful that I don’t walk in my sleep like my uncle. That can be dangerous. I related all this to my roomie who had, wise woman that she is, brought hopefully effective earplugs after that first night of my “performance”. I explained that once, while I was living in southern California in a small apartment, as a big fan of ghost hunting shows, I determined to record myself all night to see if I said anything interesting. After 15 minutes of rhythmic buzzing that actually seemed to be the overhead fan and not my adorable purr, I turned the recorder off—in my sleep, of course. Oh, well.
The 9 of Swords in the Rider Waite Smith tradition shows the sleeper has awakened, is sitting up in bed and has raised her hands to her face. Is she relieved it was only a dream? Was her sleeping life the real one and is this the illusion? Is her waking life the worse nightmare than her dream? At any rate, the card shows a change in consciousness, an awakening, a realization, an understanding of the objective truth compared to illusion.
To the aware mind, every new experience is an awakening and every new day is a chance to start over. All the past is not just a good or bad dream, but it is the past, now fixed in our lives like soft clay hardened in the kiln of experience. Work with the clay of the day, shape it to your will with the spirit of love and understanding. Remember the past, but do not be chained to it. And sometimes, bring earplugs.