Last night I had trouble falling asleep. As I lay there listening enviously to the even breathing of a certain other person who could obviously fall asleep just fine, I slowly didn’t know where I was anymore. I lay on my side facing the outside edge of the bed and realized that the wall in front of me had two closet doors, one open and overflowing, one closed. The bedroom door further down was closed for privacy. The fan at the foot of the bed was off (this is the middle of winter after all) but I could sense it there. I could feel the dusty curtains somewhere behind me over the grated window that led out onto the fire escape, and then I heard (faintly) the 7 train go by outside. I reached a hand out and touched, not the smooth polished wood of the nightstand I was somehow no longer expecting, but the rough unpolished birch of a $7 Ikea side table. Covered in piles of books, papers, and dust. I let my fingers trail up over my head and I stroked the headboard I remember leaving behind.
I kept my eyes closed because I could see so clearly through the bedroom door, down the hallway, into the living room glowing in the light filtered in from streetlamps. The ugly couches and the TV we paid off for a year were outlines, dusty ones. If I went to the window the sill would be cold even with the heater blowing warm air from the vent below it. Out the window the Manhattan skyline glittered: the Empire State Building, its lights already off due to heavy fog; the Chrysler Building, my favorite, sparkling like a Christmas tree; the CitiBank Building a blight as always on the otherwise perfect view. Inexplicably an older woman would be pushing a cart down 61st Street even though all the stores and laundromats would be closed. Would it be snowing? Sometimes I could only tell by looking at the beams from streetlights – and sometimes it was everywhere.
The elevator rumbled innocuously past the 4th floor, delivering home someone who had just disembarked the recent 7 train. The parquet floor was cold and the rug gritty beneath my bare feet. If I knocked on Jared’s louvered doors would he answer them, wearing a t-shirt from God of Carnage or [title of show]?
I kept my eyes closed tight, rolled around in the so familiar feel of this bedroom I had lived in for 3 years. I tried not to move so I wouldn’t disturb this feeling. I wanted to peek and see if it was true. Before I looked though, I wondered what was more likely: that the last year had been a dream and it was the beginning of 2009, I was gainfully employed in a job that challenged me and gave me health insurance? Or that this was an alternate reality where I was in January 2010, but one where we had stayed in New York? Would anyone else realize this was wrong? Would Jared be happy or disappointed to have us back? Would I be happy or disappointed to be there? Would Drew?
Eventually I fell asleep and when I woke up I was in San Bruno, California, married and fully admitting it was 2010. It seems silly and a little dramatic to imagine being back in Queens. Of course I wasn’t back in Queens. But it was nice to feel it, is all, around me, for just a little while.