If you happen to call my house at 3 a.m., chances are I'll be awake. The wee hours of the morning seem to be prime brain time for me lately. It's amazing the things that can keep me awake - wide awake - at three in the morning, which we all know is really the middle of the night and a time when most normal people would be, should be (wish they were) sleeping.
I think about lunchmeat and the water bill: whether we have enough and whether we use too much. I wonder if everyone has clean socks for the morning; you can never have too many of those. I remember that I forgot to sign the permission slip for the second grade field trip, and that unless I send a check for lunch money, my sixth-grader will have to eat the school freebie - PB and J, leaving me feeling like an irresponsible mom and him feeling just fine. (Peanut butter is his favorite; he feels no discomfort being the only kid in sixth grade who has run out of lunch money.)
Peanut butter aside, it's the important stuff that wards off sleep. Things like a deadline - that's a whole month away, or wondering whether we should paint the house this spring or wait until fall. I contemplate which Dr. Seuss book is my favorite: "Horton Hears a Who," or "The Sleep Book." I worry that my kids don't worry or get embarrassed about taking a free lunch.
I listen to the quiet house noises. Sometimes my husband and dog snore in tandem, but don't tell my husband. He doesn't snore. Sometimes the dog gives little high-pitched woofs, like she is chasing the cat in her dreams. I think, "Go dog, go!" The other night, my husband was making the same sound and I wondered what he was chasing. I found myself reciting rhymes from "Hop on Pop."
I can get almost slap-happy with my thoughts in the middle of the night. I wonder what's so funny about a funny bone, if it ever would be possible for someone to steal Christmas and whether I remembered to feed my one fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish.
Sometimes I spend minutes pondering the number patterns on the clock: 3:21 and 3:33 have their own special charisma, but so do 2:46 and 3:39. It's funny how I never notice the mathematical implications of the clock during the day. At night, though, they somehow become attention-worthy, sort of like green eggs and ham or how the only kid with a free peanut butter sandwich stands out from the rest of the lunch crowd.
I solve life's mysteries at 3 a.m., or at least I ponder them. Why do people in convertibles drive with the top down and windows up? Is global warming real, and if so, will it ever come to Minnesota? Will Arnold Schwarzenegger ever return to acting? Why did God invent teenagers? Would my cat ever wear a hat?
I try to fall back asleep. I shut my eyes and prepare to embrace relaxation. But then I remember that tomorrow's Thursday, and we all know what that means.
I become aware that the air is filled with sounds of rumbling - of thunder in the distance and my dog's stomach under the bed. I wonder if it is going to rain and what they are putting into dog food these days.
Then, somewhere around 3:45 or maybe 3:57, I doze off and sleep blissfully until morning. But, if you did happen to call my house at 3 a.m., chances are I'd be awake. Please don't call though, because I won't answer the phone. I'd like to, but I'm just too busy thinking.