Sunday, March 26, 2017

on the first night he slept

My baby doesn’t like it when I sleep with my back turned against him. And while I have explained multiple times that I have little control over what my body does while I sleep, he has maintained his position – I must always face him when I sleep. I figured it was something that would go away on its own eventually but I could also see that he barely slept a wink when he stayed over. I knew something had to be done.

I tried everything. I tried building forts out of pillows, even squishing myself against the wall to avoid turning but night after night after night, there I was with my back against him facing the wall.

And normally, this would be it. This would be the one small thing that started the snowball, the so-called straw that would break the camel’s back. Why would I commit to someone who would get upset over a sleeping position? It’s not like I was rolling off to some exotic location. I was literally a few inches away. I could almost hear my spiels – It’s not you. It’s me. I wasn’t ready. I’m sorry. But there was something about this man, something in the way he fought back tears to tell me about the exact moment I turned last night, that told me to stop. There must be more to this than it seems.

The bags under his eyes told me a different story. They showed me the many nights spent with other men who turned their backs on him, physically at first but then metaphorically towards the end. Perhaps there were too many outstretched arms. Too many ears to the ground praying for the sound of footsteps returning. Too many pictures untagged or erased. When he awakes in the middle of the night and with sleep in his eyes sees my back, he recalls every single lover who was gone by morning. He hears every single goodbye he never got to say. He sees my back as I walk away.

He said he doesn’t know why he can’t stand it. It seemed simple enough. It’s just sleep. Nothing to worry about. He said he knows it doesn’t make sense but I should trust that it would mean the world to him if I kept trying. I wiped his tears away, pulled him closer to my chest, and told him I would do my best.

As he lay there, I could feel the blood draining away from my arms. Just as I was about to pull away, I noticed that for the first time he was sleeping soundly. My baby doesn’t like it when I sleep with my back turned against him but if I held him as we slept, there was no way I could move. He could rest in my arms, in my love, in the fact that I wasn’t going anywhere. Not without him. And while I woke up the next day with a numb arm, it was a small price to pay for my baby to dream sweet dreams in peace.

♫: John Mayer | XO (2014)

The POST: March 2017