Twenty-three years of sleeping alone have come undone in eight quick months. Monday night when I went to sleep, O. was still on the couch, working on his laptop. The bed was cold when I lay there alone--my pajamas and blankets are calibrated for the heat of two bodies. Still, I slept. I slept and woke, slept and woke, each time expecting to find O. beside me. He wasn't there and he wasn't there.
It's astonishing, the blast of feeling that comes in the first microseconds of waking, when the mind stumbles across the threshold between oblivion and consciousness. I never suspected that sleeping--really sleeping--would become a social and relational activity. Here I am, not even three-quarters of a year into this covenant of life together, and already my default settings for something as fundamental as sleep (and if you know me, you know sleep is extremely fundamental for me) have been totally altered.
(Well, not totally. I still need my 9 or 10 hours of sleep for maximal functioning, and I still wake up when the light first reaches me. Nonetheless, so many qualitative factors transformed themselves while I was unawares.)
At dawn, O. finally came to bed. The next two hours of sleep were more restful than the preceding six. When we woke together, the sun was falling through the slanted blinds onto our shared comforter, and in every way the world was brighter and warmer than it had been, just hours before.