Well, hello there, 2012. I missed your debut, of course: I have not voluntarily stayed up until midnight for approximately seven years now, but on this particular New Year’s eve I flopped into bed at about 9 PM in the hopes of catching at least a few solid hours of sleep before our 3:30 AM wake-up call.
Of course, there was no solid sleep to be had. My brain is tricky like that: faced with a wee-hours deadline, it tends to go into panic mode, calculating and then recalculating at regular intervals throughout the night just how many potential hours of sleep the body that houses it may or may not get and at what point it might just be a good idea to cut everyone’s losses and wake up anyway and stumble through the rest of the day like a grouchy zombie.
Fortunately, at this point in my life, I am wise to my brain’s proclivities and have learned how to mostly ignore it. I imagine it as a gerbil running frantically to nowhere in its wheel. “Cute little gerbil,” I think to it, “you just go and run away over there until you’ve tired yourself out and meanwhile I will focus on my breathing.” This mindset, while far from perfect, is still a vast improvement over the sheer panic that constituted my mental life when Rowan was a newborn and the scarce chance I had to sleep uninterrupted (more formally known as hours between 3 and 8 AM when Rachel was on duty; I had the 9 PM to 3 AM shift) was entirely spent joining my brain on its gerbil wheel to nowhere, fuming and angsting about how tired I was and would be and would always be and whose idea was this baby anyway. (I remember writing thank-you notes for the piles and piles of gifts we got when he was born and suppressing the urge to write, just once, “Thank you for the so-called ‘sleeper.’ Unfortunately, it does not work and we are returning it. Please send a functioning one.”)
And now, I just think, Well, this sucks, but the worst thing about it is that I’m going to be tired tomorrow.
PERSPECTIVE. TOTALLY. RULES.
Okay, fine, but where were you going at 3:30 in the morning, Susan? Well, Toronto, of course. And Cleveland, obviously. Followed ultimately by Florida, where we finally stopped. And stayed for a glorious week of lounging and swimming and ping-pong and Solitaire playing. (“If we just moved to Cleveland,” Rowan mused as we climbed onto our third airplane of the day, “then it would take a lot less time to get to Florida.” This is true. It is also true that perhaps we should have booked our flights a little earlier on in the season. And it is also true that it was a lot nicer when there were direct flights to Minneapolis from Thunder Bay, but I’m not in charge of that.)
Our first night in Florida, the kids’ grandparents ever so graciously babysat (a favour they granted twice more during the week we were there, bless them) while Rachel and I bucked up and went out for our now-traditional dinner at the totally awesome Rhythm Café in West Palm Beach with Fiona and Jen, Toronto friends whom we see, naturally, only in Florida. (Increasingly, this seems to be the way things roll in my circles: why would you see someone in Winnipeg or Toronto when South Beach or Deerfield or Delray beckon?) “Fake it till you make it,” Rachel and I vowed to each other as we got in the car and navigated the I-95, bowing to the premise that if we acted well rested, we would be. It totally worked: the four of us ate and bitched about travel and — lovingly — our children and caught up in general and then rounded out the meal with three desserts and four forks ( the peanut butter pie was the surprise favourite). Our waitress looked like Leslie Feist (I told her that and she had never heard it before). And you know what? After 18 consecutive hours of wakefulness, we closed the place. Because, apparently, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.