The boyfriend is sick with the stomach virus and sleeping in bed. The baby naps in a room down the hall. The older boy is at his father’s house. The house is still and eerily dark. It could be the middle of the night, but it is just shy of 2pm. It is silent except for my nails clicking of the keyboard and the white noise of the refrigerator hum. It is so quiet I heard the neighbor flush and I have never heard that.
I live in a 2200sq ft. apartment on the 17th floor of a doorman, high-rise building on Wall Street. We have a roof-deck, a gym, a lounge and even a mini golf-putting situation in the basement. I never imagined myself living in a building like this. And yet, it has become my norm – although we are far from the average family on Wall Street.
First, there are not a lot of families this side of Downtown (they settle just to the west along the Hudson River in Battery Park City and further north in Tribeca). Secondly, we are an unusually artsy family; the boyfriend is a professional artist whose day job is a clown and the girlfriend (me) is an out-of-work, ex-advertising exec, wannabe writer. I have an 8-year-old boy from my previous marriage and now we have a 6-month old girl. We live a dream life and are very thankful and aware of it – and it’s limitations.
A year ago, I was 2 months into a 9-month pregnancy battling daily nausea, and living in a walk-up apartment above an Indian restaurant infested with bed bugs and breeding rats scurrying above my drop ceiling.
I have adapted quite nicely to my new living situation. But everything changes. The rent is going up and the 2-month free deal that we got that enabled us to afford this apartment is now not being offered. Translation: rent increase is $1,000. Luckily they gave us a 3-month extension to figure out a way to beg.
Last night I had insomnia for the third night in a row, and the worst of them yet. I kept insisting to myself that I was relaxed, but obviously reality proved otherwise. How I struggle to relax; it has been one of my life’s greatest challenges. I just can’t shut my brain off. I tossed and turned occasionally checking in with the clock. I would drift off and suddenly be forced back hard into consciousness in such a restless way that I’m not sure if I ever really slept last night.
This morning, I was playing with the baby; it wasn’t painfully early, about 8:30am – but it might as well have been in the middle of the night. She was sitting on the L part of my couch and I was playing alongside her. I got up and went to pick her up, but in the time it took to stand, she rolled herself onto the floor. Face first. Gasp. My couch is low to the ground, about 18” – but it was a wooden floor. She was fine – not a scratch or a bruise or any souvenir of the fall. But she cried to let me know she was pissed that I slacked off on the ‘mother should protect you and keep you safe’ responsibility.
One night last week my 8-year-old was also having a battle with insomnia. Maybe it was the last blizzard of 2010 or just a week off from school and going to bed way past his bedtime. He just couldn’t get to sleep and by 11:00pm, he came out to the living room with tears in his eyes, so clearly tortured by the desire to sleep, but the inability to let himself go there. I so hope he learns the road to relaxation earlier than I did.
But as I was strangled by my sleeplessness, just at the end of reason, I started to wonder what was keeping me paralyzed in this distressed state. I engaged in a mental game with myself where I played the devil and the advocate. I realized that I was partially anxious for the turn of the year. The change on the calendar dial – from 10 to 11. It seemed so asinine; it was just another day. But somehow, it got me a little nervous.
This past week I have been reflecting on the year - and how revolutionary it was to my life. It was so bitter at the beginning of 2010 but I made it to the middle, where in June our lives changed forever. We all tasted a kind of sweetness we just didn’t even know existed, nor did we know how much we yearned for it.
I am so thankful for how kind life has been to me this year and I’m just hoping the movement of the numbers or the realigning of the stars will not mean I’m due for more of the harshness that life can often dole out. As the clock strikes 12 and we change the dates after the slashes, there are so many maybes in front of us. So many opportunities, challenges, rewards. I’m sure 2011 will bring tears of joy and sadness, cold days and hot ones, and without doubt, lots of change.
Because as long as the earth is spinning and the clock is ticking, there’s one thing for sure: it will change – and we will adapt.
Happy New Year!