My long-time marriage imploded so quickly and completely that I was left crumpled in the rubble. My body consumed itself in shock. After struggling for ten years to lose five meager pounds, I dropped fifteen in less than three months. After a lifetime of sleeping deeply and peacefully, I’d lie awake for hours. Some nights I didn’t sleep at all.After a life time of loving to read, nothing made sense. I’d go to bed with The Atlantic Monthly, which I habitually consumed cover to cover, and not one sentence, let alone a full paragraph, could penetrate my battered brain cells.
One summer Sunday afternoon, four months into my insane period, I bumped into my friend Carrie at the grocery store. She looked down at the stick legs poking out from my shorts, took me by the hand and said, “Girl, you’re coming with me.”
First stop was the Dairy Queen, where she shoved a large chocolate malt into my hand. I said, “I can’t drink all of this,” then proceeded to slurp down the entire thing. Next stop was the YWCA where she gave me a tour, signed me up for membership and insisted that I meet her there the next day for a Zumba class. (read Solace for a Grieving Heart #2 for my love song to the Y.)
Final stop was her house, where she rummaged around for the perfect book for me. Carrie survived her own divorce years ago, and recognizing all the symptoms knew the perfect piece of escapist fiction to get me through the night.
I spent a semester studying at Cambridge University in college and have been an Anglophile since. The book’s first charm is that it takes place in London in settings that I recognize with people whose prototypes I met as a young woman.
Its second charm is that the main character, Rose, set off just as precipitously as I did on the same journey I was on. So, its chick lit. So, its main character navigated the changes in her life far more gracefully and sensibly than I did; maybe more so than any real woman could.
Still, I looked forward to curling up at
the end of the day with Rose as she regained control of her life. She gave me some hope that I would do the same. She even lulled me to sleep.
What’s your trick when sleep eludes you?