10 November 2005

Places I've Slept (Vol. 1)

The night of my high school graduation we drive up to the Catskills for a party at a classmate's summer house. Drinking and revelry ensues. Some time around three in the morning I accompany a friend down to the parking area to wait with him for a taxi that will shuttle him down to JFK and a plane home to Buenos Aires. There are some farewell recreational drug usages and many toasts made from around the lip of a J&B scotch bottle. Eventually, his taxi arrives, he leaves, and, by all accounts, I disappear. I am discovered around seven o'clock the next morning standing knee-deep in a swamp, one arm slung around a tree, the other firmly gripped around the handle of the scotch bottle. I am sound asleep. My friend carries me fireman style from my nest. Upon reaching hard ground, he drops me. I demand he take off my shoes before I go any further. He leaves me there, where I immediately fall back asleep until late in the morning.

Eighth grade class trip to D.C. A tour bus packed to the exhaust pipe with 13 year olds and faculty chaperones. I wake up to the sound of giggling and cameras rewinding and the flash of lightbulbs. I'm on my knees, ass sticking out into the aisle, and my left cheek, lodged beneath the in-front-of-me neighbor, bears the brunt of my weight. Over an hour later inside the Washington Monument I still can't move my neck enough to take full advantage of the window slits.

Summer after ninth grade. I've convinced my parents I'm sleeping at the house of a friend I'd only that afternoon made up. (My friends and I would sleep at his house with some frequency over the next few years; we'd also discuss his odd habits in school and his occasional romances so as to make him more real for all of us involved.) It is the first time I've stayed out all night drinking and doing drugs. We decide to sleep in a park by the water where we know we'll be safe and unseen. I choose to sleep on a large, flat rock right on the shore. I wake up a few hours later soaking wet and being crawled on by water rats. I'm still convinced they bit me a few times.

Drunk again, this time in college, I manage my way back to my girlfriend's dorm room. The door is locked and she is not home, though, by my estimate, due soon. I, however, can barely stand any longer and spent whatever energy left in me on the walk there. I write a note on her door in near-legible script. It says, "I'm down there" and is followed by an arrow down and to the right. I then curl up in a former payphone closet like a cat and sleep the sleep of the drunken liberal arts student. When Girlfriend arrives at her room, she is met by a group of neighbors poking at me with a hairbrush, a foot, a ruler, and a backscratcher. They turn on her and ask, "Does this belong to you?" Upon confirmation and door unlocking, my partly-lifeless form is kicked, shoved, and rolled into the room and placed on a beanbag chair, where I spend the rest of the night and much of the following day.

Again drunk, again heading to Girlfriend's room, this time with a key. Upon attempting to get into bed and get out of my pants at the same time, I fall over and land in a laundry basket. I laugh myself to sleep and wake up sore to the sound of Girlfriend and The Roommates laughing at me.

While camping with friends I discover there is no tent space left when I finally decide to pull up some sleeping bag. I instead climb atop my van. After some maneuvering, I discover my back to be the only comfortable position, but the rising sun is making that too bright. I climb back down, collect some spent but more or less intact bottle caps, climb back up, lie down and place the bottle caps over my eyes as makeshift sleeping mask. All is well until the rain begins a few hours later.

Some time in college at a friend of a friend's birthday party in Connecticut. A circle is formed late in the evening on the wide crest of a hill in the big backyard. Bottles and joints and some unnamed pharmaceutical are passed around the circle. I wake up around dawn to total blackness, wet, cold, and seemingly vacuum packed in some sort of nylon pouch. It is raining and I've been left outside to sleep in a collapsed tent by my friends. I am cold for at least a week.

I'm maybe seven and tree climbing has taken on a truly profound role in my life. I favor a neighbor's yard down the street from my parents', as the trees there are much higher and provide what I decide is a more challenging climb than those closer to home. While climbing to a personal best height, I break several of the limbs used in the pathway up and can't figure out how to get down. Believing (rightly, I still feel) that I'd be in trouble if I make a scene and call out, I decide to lay low until someone comes by who can help. As you've already guessed, I fall asleep before that happens. My father carries me down still asleep some hours later. I cannot play outside for a week.

After a rather strenuous night of drinking with friends, I am asleep in the back of my van, on the floor, while someone else drives. That someone hits a curb taking a right and blows a tire. I am still asleep. The spare tire is found, the jack put into use and tire changing commences. Believing that a police officer may stop to check on them and all underage, the friends both present and awake hide the empties in the nearby woods. Only their re-emergence from the woods prompts a cop to stop. In assessing the scene, he asks, "So whose van is this?" There were awkward glances down to the van's interior floor, where at that moment, rumor has it, I roll over and commence snoring, loudly. There is a long silence, finally broken when the cop speaks again, saying "So, uh, heavy sleeper, huh?" and then begins gut laughing for what I'm told is a disturbingly long time.


Blogger Shrew said...

I am very entertained. And...disturbed.

I will call you soon...I was out of town and then sick and now recovering from all of that.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005 2:04:00 PM  

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