A couple of nights ago, I went to bed at 1:30 am after staying up too late to work on a project. I set my alarm for 7:00 am, and I was not pleased at the thought of getting up at that time.
The fire alarm in my building went off at 3:22 am.
I was severely disoriented, as one is when a fire alarm wakes you up smack in the middle of your first REM cycle, but I managed to gather the most vital things (computer, phone), throw on a sweatshirt, and stumble down the stairs. (I couldn't find my glasses, so it was rather a dim stumbling.)
The firemen came. (It should be firepeople but there are never any women.) They did their thing. The alarm went off. I got back into bed.
By this time, it was almost 4 am, and I had three hours to sleep.
The sleeping did not go well. It was that sort of sleep where you are hyper aware of the fact that you have to get up too soon, and so you never really sleep.
When I got up, not having slept much at all, I ended up cancelling the thing I had to be up for so that I could get in at least two solid hours of sleep.
And for some reason, that night was apparently the end of my ability to sleep. I have no explanation. I just toss and turn every night now.
I drove down to Universe City yesterday, and I saw it with new eyes. I was so unhappy to leave Gone West in 2010 that I never noticed what a pretty little city Universe City is, with the hills all around.
My friend and former neighbor had a slip-and-slide set up in the yard for her son. We sat out under a tree, talking, while the kittens ran around and the sun shone and her little boy tried to put her earrings back into her ear. She laid down on the blanket so the baby would move and put my hands on her stomach so I could feel the strange little bulges under her skin.
I went to a party with some of my old coworkers. One of them drove a remote control car around the back alley like it was a drunk cat, chasing the kids, threatening our feet. These people, these people. I miss them. I miss the camaraderie of the little back corner of the building where four of us had offices, where we could yell questions back and forth, where I could go plop myself into a chair in any of their offices and get the benefit of 45 collective years of experience among them all. I would take that back in a second, but I can't, because three of us have moved on.
This afternoon, I had brunch with more lovely people who are leaving Universe City to move across the country. They got great jobs there, and they will be much closer to their family. Still. "You left us!" they said. "But I came back!" I said. "Maybe we'll come back!" they said. I held their munchkin and fed him pieces of broccoli from a little bowl. As I carried him out of the restaurant, an old lady with a walker looked at him with that open admiration that so many of us have when we look at babies.
I wrapped pictures in bubble wrap for another friend who is also moving across the country (curses! why must all my friends move away?).
Then I stopped downtown for tea and some delicious ice cream. I bought a scoop of basil strawberry peppercorn ice cream, and the owner got all excited when I asked about the seasonal corn flavor they had last year (next month, when the strawberries and blueberries are done), and so he gave me a little scoop of smoky caramel ice cream with apricot cardamom chutney on top. I would normally balk at the idea of apricot chutney, but sometimes you have to accept that the purveyors of food have come up with a good combination, and they had. I can't quite explain the flavor, but somehow the two things together made something completely new.
And then I drove home up the ribbon of highway, singing along to the radio.