15 February 2015

Two A.M.

Our apartment is hot.  Swelteringly so.  They say in New York that you have two kinds of heat settings: boiling and not working.  I am thankful that we at least have heat, but it is almost oppressive in its presence.

I consider opening the window a crack, but am too tired to get up.  That window is so hard to open, and my core muscles, after bearing three little people, usually protest when I finally have to close it again.  Additionally, I don't want to be seen - the looming 20 story building behind ours - some monstrosity built in the 1970s that sticks out like a sore thumb in the block of post-war five-floor walk-ups - stares at me with lidless windows whenever I open that window.  I usually just slip my arms around the curtain on either side and pull, hoping no one is looking out.  At 2 AM, the chances are slim, but I am more wary about those looking out at this time of night.

That window, too, is on the fire escape.  I read in our local listserve last week about someone getting robbed in the neighborhood a few blocks away and the burglar came in through the fire escape.  Ours is hard to access, but I'm always on the alert.  Moreso now that my husband is out of town for two weeks.  I'll just leave it closed.

The person next to me shifts in her sleep.  I am relieved that she finally - after struggling all night - was able to get through the congestion and nurse to sleep.  Probably only because I forced some medicine down her throat.  Our room may be hot, but little fevers burn hotter.  I am thankful for those souls who discovered ibuprofen, and I silently send a prayer their nameless way.

Now she is finally resting, and I wish I could be, too, but there is always a little sense of alertness that lingers after a midnight wakening.  She is sleeping now, but she is still stirring somewhat.  I know that I won't be able to rest until she has dropped into deeper sleep.

We share the same bed - all my children have - although the older have graduated to their own.  In our one-bedroom, though, that's not a big step.  The girls sleep on a trundle futon that slips neatly underneath ours.  I was so excited when I found it online last month - a little sense of comfort in a strange new place - I wouldn't have to fold our beds up every morning, and I could get them off of the floor.

It was never really a conscious choice - we seem to have been in small spaces for the majority of our family life.  In Chicago, we had a one-bedroom, and Evanston as well.  Once we moved to Bloomington, we expanded to fill a three-bedroom house, and only downsized this past year.  Now we are back in a one-bedroom, thanks to New York rental prices, and so our lifestyle didn't take a major hit.  Where, I ask, would we put all the beds?

My eight year-old stirs, sitting up and rubbing her eyes.  The heat has gotten to her, so I help her take off her pajamas.  She flops onto the bed again, asleep before her head hits the pillow.  I consider a pre-emptive removal of my six year-old's pjs, but think again.  Her going-to-bed was fraught with more-than-usual crying and lamentation.  Last night, she wailed that I was turning into a vampire.  Tonight, it was less dramatic - I was only going to explode - but I'm not rushing to wake that up.

It is hard when daddy leaves town.  Not only for the outright absence of another adult presence, but for the change in routine, the inability to ask simple, every-day questions to another adult.  Even questions like, "what's for dinner?"  I take care of all of those daily needs now, absorbing them into my daily routine.  I complain about two weeks, but I am really thankful that I have a partner in the first place.  Two weeks is just a drop in the bucket.  Proper dues to those parents who are single all the time.

The littlest one stirs again, flopping her legs and arms as she lays on her back.  Her nose is so snuffy that she sleeps with her mouth open for breath.  This - aside from the fever - has been her chief complaint this time around.

We've been sick since we moved here - all the new germs that a city of eight million can breed have seemed to come our way, in one form or another.  Nathan told me of a colleague who experienced a similar phenomenon.  She's a true New Yorker now, inoculated after her season of illness.  When Spring comes, I suppose we'll be able to say that of ourselves.  I am tired of being sick.

I am getting more used to this pace of life - no car, three children, getting groceries; smoking neighbor, holes in the walls, buying air filters; houses on top of one another and crammed into blocks, but unadulterated green space six blocks away.  I suppose I am feeling more hopeful - late nights notwithstanding - adapting to a new way of living.  New York is a country unto itself - noisy, raucous, yes, but also kind and community-oriented.  There are those who are rude, but there are more kind people here than I have ever met before as well.  The sheer volume alone, coupled with the fact that there are so many of us.  On an island.  We have to work together.

The tiredness finally hits me like a wave.  I feel the energy draining out of me and I imagine it flowing into my mattress, down the legs of my bed, through the floor and into the granite two stories below.  The earth will hold it there for me until I need to call it up again, in a few hours when the sun rises.  It somehow always has a harder time coming back up...