Sleep Talking…

My husband talks in his sleep.

In the early hours of this morning he turned to me and said, “That’s enough of that now.”

To which I replied, “Enough of what?”

“Enough of those carrots. You keep putting them in the mixer and they’re flying out everywhere. You’re making a huge mess!”

“Ok,” I said. “I’ll stop with the carrots.”

And we both rolled over and went back to sleep.

These are not generally the types of conversations we have while he’s sleeping. No. Generally our middle of the night sleep chats are much angrier.

Now, my husband, He’s not a loud man in his waking hours. In fact, he is the opposite. Calm. Reserved. Collected. Stoic.

The only thing I’ve ever heard him yell at are the dogs when they’re taking off at top speeds over the hill after a deer, leaving all sense of hearing behind and that one time when a guy driving a random piece of machinery mistook our yard for an oil site and almost ran over our new culvert.

I know it’s not nice to laugh when someone you love is all worked up, but, I mean, a brand new vein spontaneously appeared in his neck. Don’t mess with this man’s culverts.

Anyway, besides those few select scenarios, my man is basically eerily unemotional. Chill. Laid back. Reserved.

But in his sleep he is another man entirely.

Yes, in his dreams he yells, strings of words I’ve never heard him use together in his waking life, not even at culvert man. In the depths of the night he’s mad at someone. He rolls over and makes a heavy dramatic sigh. He hollers at unnamed characters. He makes general, angry suggestions to do things like ‘get over it’ or ‘hurry the hell up’ or ‘come on already.’

He curses, Tourette style, words flying from his mouth that stand alone in the quiet, dark night of our room, flinging my eyes open and reaching my arm to his back to tell him, ‘shhh, shhh, it’s ok.”

He’s upset. He’s frustrated. He’s loud.

He’s completely and utterly out of it.


Now I’ve shared a room with this man for a while, and I can tell you he has always slept the  sleep of the dead. Like, if an elephant opened the front door of our house and made his way up the steps and into our room to sit on the end of our bed and clean his toenails, my husband wouldn’t even stir.

Once, when we lived in town, someone threw a construction cone at his car parked on the street, setting his car alarm off in a frenzy and scaring the shit out of me enough to whack him on the back and send him up out of the bed, out the door and out on the street before he woke up under the street lights to realize he was in nothing but his underwear.

Yes, the man can snooze. And sometimes he rolls over to tell me things about how delicious the pineapple tasted in his dreams, or maybe once there was something about pants that didn’t fit, or getting the right cheese at the store, or making it to the top of a mountain in time to catch the goats, you know, weirdly normal sleep-talking subjects.

But his sleeps never used to be angry. No. This new phenomenon crept into our lives a few years ago, in the middle of the night, sending me shooting out of bed and dangling from the light fixture in terror.

Who was this man in my room and why was he shouting the F-bomb for no reason?

And of course at first I thought it was a funny, one time nightmare thing, but that, as you know, has proven not to be the case.

No. My man has become an angry sleeper.

Now, I’ve tried to understand it. I have asked him if he remembers being angry at anyone in his dreams. I’ve asked him, if there are names involved, if they are real people, people he may have unresolved issues with, perhaps?

I’ve wondered if he’s ever yelling at me.

But he can’t remember, not the angry dreams anyway.

The good dreams? The ones where he can fly or is riding a fast horse or winning the lottery? He can remember those.

The annoyed dreams, like the thing about the carrots this morning? Yup. Clear as day.

The bad dreams?  Not a slice of a memory.


Now, I’m beyond analyzing this, except to come to the conclusion that this stoic man of mine, this even tempered rock sleeping next to a woman who has been known to have countless emotional and similarly loud outbursts of joy, anger, pain or excitement in her waking hours, has to find a way to let go somehow.

Because, wild dogs, culvert guy and being forced to watch the Academy Awards excluded, this man is pretty steady.

So sleep it out my man. Tell the world to… know what…while you rest in the safety and oblivion of your deep slumber. Those words from your mouth don’t scare me.

Actually, I’m happy to hear them and perfectly fine with the booming of your voice waking me in the night.

Because sometimes, when I’m all worked up, arms flailing, words slurring together, tears squeezing out of my eyes and you say to me “Don’t worry. It’s fine. It’ll all work out,” I worry that you holding this puddle of a woman together in this puddle of a world might be a quiet burden you don’t need to bear so softly.

So yell into the quiet night when no one can hear you but me so I can wake up and smile, roll over and touch your back knowing that in this life, all things find balance…in their own way…

Oh, and don’t worry, I’ll get those carrots under control.

I will leave the light on…

To come down from the buttes after staying out a little too far past sundown only to see the lights of the barnyard illuminating the grass and the kitchen of the house glowing warmly through the windows, waiting for my return…

it means more to me than I can describe here.

I imagine the same sight greeting my grandparents, my aunt and uncle and my father. I imagine them feeling the same deep breath, the same overwhelming calm as they drove in from the fields, rode up to unsaddle a horse or strip off the layers from a hunt in the hills in the still of a late summer or autumn evening.

I imagine the smell of baked bread reaching them from the open windows or the smoke from a grilled steak waiting for them to sit down around the table, the door swinging open and the warmth of this old house whispering “this is home this is home this is home this is home…”

No matter how far you find yourself.

No matter the distance between you and these buttes.

No matter the time that has passed, the mistakes that you’ve made, the words you can’t take back, the pain you might hold onto, the life you might have found down the road or the love you might have lost here…

No matter.

Don’t worry.

This is home…

And I will leave the light on.

If only the night would wait…

The night.

Slowly it sweeps over us, peeking out from behind the horizon, warning that another day will soon be gone–that time has passed us once again.

That it always wins.

We scramble to get the chores done, our dinners served and dishes cleaned.

Our babies bathed and tucked in tight.

And as we sing the first few lines of a familiar lullaby, the black cloak is draped and the moon rises outside our windows so humble, so unassuming that we often miss it as our eyes grow heavy and our breath evens out and the weight of the darkness creeps over our roofs.

And when the moon makes its way up to center sky, the wind grows calm under its rays, the grass stoops low and the night creatures with eyes that flash from the hillsides and from deep in the brush make plans for an unnoticed life.

So the civilized turn in, shut doors, move locks and draw curtains, hoping this time, tonight, to keep the quiet out.

But out here the quiet is loud…

…so loud…

Because once the last of the coyotes finish their star serenade, they laugh as they leave us with nothing.

Nothing but the silence that envelops us and screams the things we cannot be, the places we will never go, the people we will never hold, the words we should have never said…

..the words we should have delivered instead.

So we reach for our loves, pull covers up tight, curse at the clocks and turn on our TVs to drown out the calm…the silence.

We whisper.

Our words prick the air.

We squeeze our eyes tight against it.

And under this blanket of black we lay on our backs and fight the dark with thoughs of the morning…

…and dream of the things we could be…

…if only the night would wait.