I wonder, sometimes, how much love we need to sustain ourselves. What kinds of love keep us going? What kinds of love knock us down?
Chugging my second mug of sleepy-time tea, I feel fit to break. I can't remember the last time I went to bed before midnight. On the weekends I get caught up with drinking (exhausting work, it is). On the weekdays I get caught up in the small pleasures of the chores of my life. I make myself dinner. I listen to the same country song over and over again. I drink tea if I forgot to buy wine. Or I drink wine.
And then, all of a sudden, it's 11 o'clock. I'm not tired. I woke up at six thirty. Surely I'm tired.
Sadness hits me now and again. Where I once curled into a nap to fend off negative thoughts, I now stay awake. I stay OK. This is why I fear that I'll break soon. I don't think I'm really so good at keeping late hours.
My cat and dog look at me, expectantly. It's like they know it's all too good to be true. They're ready to catch me when I fall.
I think it is love that sustains us. I think it is the root of all things, good and bad. I'm working on a slow love. It's kept me going for a short while now. I think it's what keeps me up at night.
It's the deep, slow breath kind of love. It's the pause before saying what only you want to hear. It's dropping your shoulders. It's eye contact with a stranger. It is, first and foremost, sitting your ass on the cold front porch steps while your dog chases her ball for 20 minutes. It's letting your sister have her happiness when you can't quite garner your own. It's self-love and self-pity and self-destruction too. It's balance and it's fear and it's boredom.
I see myself seeing myself. I cannot fall asleep. Is it because I love too big or too hard? Do I not love enough? Thoughts of love don't keep me up — I am awake with the sensation of my body's trajectory through each day. My face touches my pillow and I am overwhelmed by the sinking-ness that is: I'll never be loved again. I do a backbend in yoga and my body fills with love and gratitude for my family: I love you so much. My face hurts from laughing at my sister. She's crude and she's terrible and I laugh: I love!
My eyes are getting heavy. If love feels like wakefulness, how do I explain my sleep? I have the most vivid dreams. I wake up to the alarm of whatever ringtone I think will sound most pleasant. I've tried a lot. They all suck. Waking up sucks. All the love I capture during the day has yet to show itself in the early mornings. I roll out of bed, stand over my pillows, wonder what life would be like if I were allowed just 10 more minutes.
Slowly, I turn around. I call my dog to the front door. We go outside. We blink awake. It's dark these mornings. Early or not, Emma still chases her tail around the courtyard. The fountain still gurgles with water. The two huge palms still stand sentry: you may come and go, but we'll be here when you need us. I close my eyes. And then, open. I stayed up all night for this.
Connelly Hardaway, CP's editorial assistant, is an avid blogger, beer drinker, yogini, and couch-napper. She lives on James Island with her twin sister, small cat, and strange mutt dog.