In my whole life, the one thing I have never had a problem with is sleep. Fallen out with a lover? I’m not the one who lays awake looking at the ceiling for resolution. Big meeting tomorrow? It’s going to happen whether I allow myself those eight hours or not. Flight delayed by eleventy thousand years? Well this patch of floor by the bins looks like a great place to lay my weary head. Wake me when we’re ready to go.
Nothing gets in the way of my z’s and me.
Except last week. Last Wednesday night I tossed and turned and worried for most of the wee hours. And when my alarm rang, it felt like I had only just dropped off; it seemed an otherworldly impossibility that it was time to get up. I groaned loudly, and then was cross at myself because I have this thing about not having my first thought on opening my eyes be I WISH I WAS DEAD SO THAT I’D NEVER HAVE TO DO MORNINGS. I try to start with something a bit less final. On Thursday, my first thought was FUCKFUCKFUCKFUCKSHITTITSARSEANDBOLLOCKS.
I thought the bad thoughts and then was sad and really REALLY tired. I knew that theoretically I could just go back to bed, but if I have learnt anything about working in a job I hate, it is that if I don’t go for my twelve breakfasts and do some writing at the café before work, I want to cause bodily harm to children when AT work.
Related: hi, students!
I peeled myself from around the duvet and did some stretches and brushed my teeth and played with my new fringe in the mirror. I want Mama, I thought to myself, and realising that 8 a.m. my time is 7 a.m. GMT, I knew she’d answer if I called.
I Skyped them. It rang, and rang, and rang. That’s weird, I thought. They have the computer upstairs, and the iPad downstairs, and The Forge is so small they can hear the ringing from anywhere… Generally, if the Skype rings off Mama calls me right back with some tale about letting the dog out or being on the toilet or how she was on the phone to her own mother.
I rang them five times at five-minute intervals.
I’m not very comfortable with this, I thought. My parents have a routine. 6.30 a.m. they wake up. 6.45 a.m. Dad makes a cup of tea. 6.50 a.m. They lie in bed laughing and watching the sun over the hills. 7.15 a.m. Dad does his first poo of the day. Honestly, at any given point in the day I can tell you exactly where they both are with a 96% rate of accuracy. Therefore, THEY SHOULD HAVE BEEN ANSWERING THE TELEPHONE.
This is the moment at which I acknowledge my somewhat irrational behaviour, because I possibly should have shrugged, told myself to put on my big girl pants, left a voicemail to say, hey, is everything okay? Call me! and then gone off to write.
Instead, I invented a factually unfounded and absolutely groundless narrative in my mind about all the reasons that my parents were not answering a 7 a.m. Skype call from their only daughter in Rome, and it involved blood and heart attacks and robbers and divorces and alien abductions and the episode of Emmerdale where they found a baby on the doorstep.
I tried Dad’s cell, and then Mum’s cell, and with every unanswered call my imaginary suspicions were confirmed that ALL THE BAD THINGS HAD HAPPENED AND I WAS TOO MANY MILES AWAY AND IT IS ALL MY FAULT BECAUSE IF I WASN’T IN ANOTHER COUNTRY EVERYONE WOULD BE OKAY HOW WILL I EXPLAIN THIS AT THE FUNERAL EVERYONE WILL HATE ME FUCK.
And yes. I’m aware of how uncensored my narcissism gets when I haven’t slept.
So by 7.30 a.m. British time and I was dialing and dialing and eventually decided to call my Nanna. Mum sees her mum every day and Nanna is a bit like the head of our own version of the Mafia, so if any shit was going down and if any abductions needed noting, Nanna was my woman.
I think I woke her up. What is it with Derbyshire? IS 7.30 A.M. NOT A REASONABLE TIME TO BE AWAKE AND MAKING HYSTERICAL PHONE CALLS? HUH? HUUUUH?!
Thing is, my Nanna is an emotionally sensitive soul, so I knew the importance of not being A Mental on the phone. So she was all, Laura, I can’t hear you! And I was all, Just calling to check in! And she was like, At 7.30 in the morning? And I was all, SO LISTEN. TALK TO ME ABOUT ANYTHING UNUSUAL THAT HAPPENED DURING THE NIGHT. SOAP OPERAS, LIGHTS IN THE SKY, THAT SORT OF THING.
Nanna told me she loved me, and that she’d seen mum and dad yesterday and had a lovely time with them, so I got all, Oh. Okay. Awesome. And then forgot anyone on the rest of the plant existed because it was time to go and write about my vagina and eat all the pastries.
I swear, without those pastries, my book would not have been written.
By the time I arrived at work six hours later, and thus to an Internet connection, I had a gazillion emails and Facebook messages from my mother best surmised as, WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK LAURA? WHAT IS GOING ON? And then my phone started beeping with texts from them both, which hadn’t come through in the café because there is no signal there. That’s why I write where I do: no signal for my phone, no Internet connection for distraction, just me and my mind.
Which is pretty scary.
So then Mama was all hysterical saying her sister had called her to say I had rung Nana from Rome, and then everyone in the world knew I had been trying to not be A Mental, and in the six hours I had been writing about all the cute boys I met when I lived in America Mum thought that maybe I had died, or been abducted by aliens, or fired, or SOMETHING REALLY TERRIBLE AND WHY WOULD ANYONE LEAVE SO MANY MISSED CALLS WHEN THEY WEREN’T EVEN AWAKE YET?
‘Wait,’ I said to Mum when a Skype call finally connected. ‘You were asleep?’
‘Yes Laura. It was seven in the morning. We were asleep.’
To which I said, ‘Urm. Woops?’ And then Mum was like You’ve given me six of the worst hours of my life for a woooops? And I said, Hey, I had a pretty scary twenty minutes myself, you know, and she was all THAT ISN’T THE SAME! and so I took control of the situation by bringing it back to what we both needed to remember.
Let’s keep this in perspective, I said. NO ALIENS! YAY!
And then she hung up.