I wake in the night, open my eyes, and see nothing. My room has no color, no light, no sound; this thrills me. Some people fear the dark, and I can imagine that, in a strange place, in a fearful time. But I know the size and shape of my room; I trust it is constant, even though I can’t see it. I feel enormous peace and joy in this total darkness.
I’ve always liked to sleep in dark rooms, and over recent years, I’ve become gradually more sensitive to light disturbances, while at the same time, the lights have become ubiquitous, almost inescapable. Power strips, smoke detectors, LED beacons on electronic gadgets, chargers, phones. In our kitchen both the range and the microwave insist on telling the time in lit numbers. Whenever I housesit, I usually have to find ways to sling blankets over curtains, just to get a semblance of darkness in suburban neighborhoods. Over this past summer, I slept in my office, and every night went through a ritual of covering all the bright electrical dots that illuminated my slumber space. My housemates were both similarly inclined so we all strived for a dark house. My best friend in high school needed a night-light and went to sleep with her radio on. Our friendship was powerful to have survived that.
Sounds at night, a different topic, but I remember living in a cabin where I unplugged the oven every night because the clock whirred. Married to Will, who snored like a freight train, I learned to love earplugs. Now, the trains roar through my neighborhood; I sleep through them. Silence is nice, but darkness is bliss.
When I moved back into my own room last month, I was distracted, not thinking about my black-out curtains, or being on the side of the house where the neighbor’s pole light and our garage light can’t reach. That first night, when I woke halfway through, and saw nothing but nothing, I felt such a greedy thrill. I had a hard time going back to sleep. I just lay awake, looking at the beautiful dark, resting my eyes against it, feeling like I was floating in my sweetly solid bed. I have read about sensory deprivation float tanks; that’s an experiment I’m looking forward to. Without the feeling of my body’s weight, will my mind land on its rock solid bottom?
I cheat the darkness, slightly, sweetly. My bedside clock has old-fashioned hands that glow oh-so-gently while I fall asleep. On one wall, I have a primitive work of art, a phosphorescent imitation of beams of lights that arrived through various windows, just after my father died, and later, when Will died. Those bright spots on those sleep-room walls were loving ghosts to me. My arrangement of glowing lines and shapes guides me to sleep and then fades away in the night. Always, I know they are there, as the whole world is somewhere, while I’m safe in my dark peace.
oh, dear friends, I must go over my 500 words now, should be in invisible ink – woo woo … discovered while doing photo, preparing to post this blog… like ghosts, the glowing stuff will not allow itself to be photographed (except in daylight view), at least not with any camera in my repertoire, so you will have to imagine how it shines. Twelves panes sitting on an L.