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?