When I think of my childhood, it's usually a particular memory of something. I often feel that I don't really remember childhood, not that I've blocked it out but that it's just sort of a gray sort of thing.
There's plenty that I remember from those years, and my brothers and I certainly have lots of stories ranging back as many years as we've been around. But parts of childhood, feelings about things, my view of the world I was part of, those things sometimes seem as if I never had those thoughts. This is what I don't remember. That puts the grayness over the memories, as if they aren't quite as real somehow. It's as if I were a spectator, and I wonder now if I felt then as if I were merely a spectator, or maybe I was just someone who ran out between scenes to help change the props.
Something I do remember was brought up accidentally by Big Brother tonight. He's in bed, has been in bed for over an hour as this story happens. I was sitting here writing some crap about having writer's block, and I probably boohooed about it at least a little. I'd just finished posting, had long since sipped the last bit of beer out of my glass, and was headed toward the kitchen both for a new beer and for the back door so I could step outside for a smoke.
I was in the kitchen, had just poured my new beer when Big Brother was there, out of bed and out of nowhere, getting his water cup for yet another last drink. The night has grown late of course, the time he would usually be asleep, and I reminded him that he needed to get to sleep. It was then that he informed me that he sometimes doesn't get to sleep till dawn, but that he does get some sleep.
And I was taken back for bit. He told me goodnight and went on to bed, and I was remembering as a child, being so certain that I never slept. I'd go to bed, I'd play and squirm and roll around, and it usually took me some time to get to sleep. It didn't help that there were four of us in the room in two sets of bunk beds. And it didn't help that a certain older brother liked to open the closet door secretly from the top bunk, knowing that I feared the skeletons that were going to come out and somehow do ill deeds to me but who were unable to open the door for themselves. But neither was that at all the problem.
I know I slept, and I know Big Brother sleeps. I've checked on him often enough at night. I hear the sounds of his play coming through the wall as well as the sounds of his not play. I know when he wakes up and how much sleep he needs. And I don't doubt that my parents knew these things about me. And I'm quite certain I complained to them at times that I never got any sleep.
But I remember that feeling, that laying in bed trying to be still, to keep my eyes closed, to will myself to sleep. Roughly half an hour has passed since my short conversation with Big Brother, and I'm quite certain he's asleep. I haven't heard any noises, no bed thumps, nothing in long enough, that I'm sure of myself. He's very likely already asleep.
To this day it can take me a long time to get to sleep. I do take my sleeping medicine, twelve ounces at a time, and very often, I am asleep much before my brain gets a chance to take over. But there's still those nights quite often that I just lay there feeling the time slide past, slowly as if willing me to be awake that much longer. My brain runs the gauntlet of things inappropriate to think about when trying to sleep.
I wonder what keeps Big Brother awake at night, though often I'm pretty sure it's just playing. He took two Hot Wheels motorcycles to bed tonight. Sometimes he takes stuffed animals and probably plays out Pokemon battles. I doubt it has anything to do with George Taylor and Nova, but I was a bit older at that point than he is now, so I imagine his fantasies will be somewhat different. Of course, when I was his age, I didn't have Hot Wheels motorcycles. If I did, I would have had one that I shared with my two younger brothers, and none of us would have been allowed to take it to bed.
I guess we're just night owls. It's easy enough now, but these kids, if they don't do anything else they get bigger and older. Many years of bedtimes never trained the late night restlessness out of me, so I can only imagine what we'll see as the years slip past. And that's one more thing that kids are great for, seeing your past in them as a catalyst for wondering if you're seeing their future in you.