Learning how to sleep

After conquering jet lag, I imagined long stretches of restfulness. I'd get home from the arena at 1 am and start on the computer late the next morning. I'd cash in on the hotel's free breakfast and pot of french press coffee delivered to the room. I'd take long London walks, gulping cold breaths of December air, before going back to the arena to work in the afternoon.

So why am I still wake at 4:30 am, television buzzing? I don't remember turning it on. At 4:30 am I lay for hours, mind racing, and drift off again. In the morning I shake out the duvet to find the glasses that fell off my nose.

When I sleep in people's homes, it's different. I have no problem sleeping. On Christmas day with the Hudson family, I wore a paper crown at dinner and ate mince pies. I sipped dry sherry and sweet sherry and glasses of white wine. By the time we played charades, I could hardly hold my head up off the back of the couch, I was so tired and maybe half drunk.

In the morning I heard Alfie outside my room, babbling his baby talk, but I rolled over. Much later, I made myself sit up and join the family downstairs for tea.

Twenty-four hours ago, I landed at Tegel airport, smiling and biting my lip as I walked off the plane and through passport control. On the concourse, I looked around and saw Charlie walking my way. He hadn't seen me yet. When he did, both of our faces cracked and we wrapped our arms around each other, laughing, "OH MY GAWD!"

"I'm so glad I'm not the only one who laughs uncontrollably when it's been a long time that they've seen someone," I said.

We took a bus and train to Hermannplatz, bought eggplant and zucchini and brussel sprouts at the market, and walked to his apartment. The stripped wooden floors and big windows with red curtains reminded me of the first day he walked through my door in New York, shaking snow off his boot. He'd never seen snow before.

Last night we sat on the futon and ate potato chips. He cooked the vegetables with tahini and we drank tea and talked and eight hours later I fell asleep. This morning I saw a figure dressed in black, standing in the middle of the room, red curtain behind. Charlie went to work and I rolled over, heavy still with dreams.

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