There’s always been a daytime me and a nighttime me. Over the years, daytime me has aged appropriately. (More or less.) In her twenties, she may have been emotionally immature and made unwise, self-destructive choices. But thanks to loads and loads of psychotherapy, all paid for by herself, she eventually began presenting to the world as a worthy applicant for the rewards and obligations of life. Now, one year and three months away from her tenth decade of living, she’s frequently even thought wise.
Nighttime me doesn’t know from wise. She didn’t age at all over the decades. Drifts off to sleep with the same erotically romantic fantasies she was having at eighteen and twenty, informed by more biological knowledge than she had then, but driven by the same emotional hungers. Even the fantasy plots are pretty much the same. (How many stories does any writer have in her?) Nighttime me never has any sense that what’s in her head couldn’t possibly be actualized by the body she currently inhabits. She simply is.
It’s true that nighttime me has disappeared, sometimes for very long periods of time, leaving daytime me to find other, more conventional, ways of falling asleep. (Having a beloved male body up against hers always worked.) But when such options vanish, it’s no surprise to daytime me that nighttime me may return as daylight wanes, a trusty, if embarrassing, lifelong friend. Daytime me doesn’t sweat it, though. After all, nighttime me has always known her place, which is under the covers when the lights are out, where there’s no possibility of public shame. And when real life becomes too painful or unbearably sad – that is, when fantasy can’t cut it — nighttime me bails out. Just when she’s needed, she’s gone. A no show. What kind of trusty friend is that?
You could certainly call these Covid days painful and unbearably sad. On a personal level, they’re also trying, debilitating, lonely. Daytime me now lives a protectively isolated life in three rooms with two cats and two telephones (plus a desktop) — except for a daily masked and gloved trip to the mail room, where only two sanitized residents are allowed in at a time. And for an elderly person like daytime me, there’s no likely end in sight. Until a vaccine. She should live so long.
Yet — paradoxically — just when you’d least expect it, nighttime me is back. Now daytime me can hardly wait to get under the covers and turn out the lights. In the warm comforting movie of nighttime me’s mind everyone is still eighteen or twenty, each yearning to be wrapped around the other, and the misunderstandings they confront in trying to pass go are nothing compared to sadness or loneliness or fear. Daytime me knows this is not a mature way to put her aged self to sleep in perilous times, but frankly doesn’t give a damn. And nighttime me is pleased to be again of service.
What’s doing it for you and you?
19 thoughts on “ME AND ME”
I love nighttime me – she has so much more fun that daytime me. Thanks for your post pointing out that this is a perfectly normal situation in people of a certain age.
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Happy to hear you too have a nighttime me, Cordelia’s mom. No female person “of a certain age” should be without one!
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Beautifully written Nina. I couldn’t have said it better myself.
Last night I saw a wonderful movie Bel Canto.
“A famous American soprano becomes trapped in a hostage situation when she’s invited to perform for a wealthy industrialist in South America.
Initial release: September 13, 2018 (Russia)
Director: Paul Weitz
Release date: September 14, 2018 (United States)
Executive producers: Ali Jazayeri, Viviana Zarragoitia, MORE
Producers: Paul Weitz, Anthony Weintraub, Karen Lauder, Greg Little, Lizzie Friedman, Andrew Miano”.
It was pure escapism and the music was hauntingly beautiful. That’s what did it for me.
Thanks for the kind words about the writing, Leslie. Before it became a movie, Bel Canto was a novel by Ann Patchett, her fourth and best known. I believe it won several prizes. I looked up the movie when you mentioned it. Apparently Julianne Moore’s singing voice was supplied by Renee Fleming, of Metropolitan Opera fame. No wonder you found the music hauntingly beautiful. I shall wait till I can access the movie for free on Netflix streaming, but will certainly look for it, on your recommendation. I too find a good movie made by someone other than nighttime me equally effective for falling asleep afterwards!
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This is beautifully written. Generally no problem with sleep, but a well-done film with complex relationships and humor is a fabulous finish to my day. Like many other people, I am, upon awaking, remembering more of my crazy dreams. Also I agree with swo8’s assessment of BelCanto. The book is beautifully written, but I have not seen the film. It is now on my list.
My reply to swo8 (Leslie) pretty much responds to your comment, Ms. Runner. Although I might add that running should probably get a lot of the credit for your lack of problems with sleep. Alas, I never ran when I might have. And now it’s far too late. Walking back and forth in the apartment while locked down will have to do!
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I haven’t yet reached your level of awareness on how the days and nights progress in an order that makes sense.
The nights usually are in marital bliss and Helvi is as truly alive then as before. Alas, on awakening the dreamtime is over and the proof is that no coffee will be made for her, never ever again.
I, like you miss a body to snug up to, but what can one do? We are now forbidden to hug and at a metre a half away, would be tricky.
I have a nice friend coming over to change the bedlinen and tidy up once a fortnight. She is a terrific hugger but married and yet hugged me so nicely till the virus broke out.
I live of those kind of titbits from day to day, dear Nina.
It will take a long time, Gerard. You had a whole adult lifetime with Helvi. Her absence must feel as if half of you was ripped away. I have no advice about that, except to try to go on living, which is still better, I think, than the alternative. And as for the tidbits you say you now live on (surely “titbits” was a misspelling — or was it?) — are you referring to hugs from the nice married friend, or reading blog posts?
Hugs from the married friend, Nina.
This is one of the most beautifully written pieces you’ve done…..very moving, insightful and filled with a special truth that all of us of a certain age can relate to. I am fortunate enough to have someone to snuggle with and am so grateful for that….but the nighttime me has me moving about with boundless energy, instead of the daytime me with kinks and aches. Please give us more……loved it,!!!!
Gosh, Rita. That means a lot. It did take a lot of rethinking and rewriting. I also hesitated before posting it. But I guess it does speak to a certain demographic, ourselves included. “Give us more?” Greedy girl. No one can hit one out of the ball park every day!
Well I’m sure you could hit it out of the park every other time!!!!..you may have been asked this before….have you
considered writing a memior? Now’s a great time!!
Thanks so much, Cara Joyce.
Nina, missed a few posts, and backtracking to catch up. This one, well written & incredibly creative, made me think way back in age. (I’m 80). My 21-year- old daytime & nighttime me, I wrote about in my book. So, I just think about the book nighttime me, married to a handsome Jewish doctor, and well…there you have it.
In my post catch up, I read your Fiction S. Shares Some Family History (2014). A realistic look at families, and questioning— Do other good memories along the way make the pain & suffering of life tolerable?Good comments., and a yes for me. I recently saw a delightful movie Abe (2019) about dysfunctional families. Twelve-year-old Abe is an aspiring chef, but his family—half-Palestinia, half Israeli—have never had a meal together without a fight. Worth viewing. A similar theme to your story. Glad I’m back reading your posts. Always come away with new thoughts. 📚🎶 Christine
“S” was my darling Bill, who was still alive when I wrote it, Christine — hence the pseudonomic initial. Apparently he did surmount the difficulties of earlier dysfunctional family life; he always claimed to be very happy with me, which made me very happy too. I shall look for “Abe,” on your recommendation. Also I too am glad you’re back!
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Thanks for revealing S was Bill. A stronger man than many to survive in a dysfunctional family, and thrive married to you. I get that. Robert (significant other & a Vietnam vet) came from a crazy, money, drugs & mayhem family. He was saved by the military and than settled down happily with me (the older woman). A healthier environment counts! Maybe a credit to us stronger women. Who knows. 📚🎶 Christine
Wow, what a great topic! Thanks for sharing.
You’re welcome, Carmen.