At 4AM my eyes shot wide open for no particular reason, as far as I could tell. For the next several hours, until my alarm clock went off, I spent the minutes tossing and turning, my brain operating at full-speed, dreams mimicking all the awake moments of days past and days to come.
It’s a scene I’m used to: Late August Insomnia.
Sometimes, I sit up in bed and read or write until my body finally agrees to a system shut-down. Other times, I attempt yoga breathing exercises hoping to force a blank-slate on my brain. In theory, I’m supposed to wipe it clean of my thoughts and hide the chalk. This is a method I’m new at and therefore find it largely unsuccessful. So most nights, I just try to tough it out, hoping the physical exhaustion of flipping from my right side to my middle to my left will eventually put me back to sleep.
I realized this is an annual occurrence. A sort of seasonal allergy. But instead of ragweed or pollen, the root cause of sleeplessness is loose-leaf.
I used to believe that my Late August Insomnia was the result of excessive sleep stores. Perhaps I had slept in too much in July and my body was some how trying to return to equilibrium? No. It was because of loose-leaf.
It was usually around mid-August that I began my back-to-school supply shopping. It was, as the Staples commercial is so keen to say, the most wonderful time of the year. Fresh notebooks. Clean binders. New pens and just sharpened Ticonderoga pencils. It was exciting: Nothing holds as much potential as a clean first page in a brand new notebook.
But with back-to-school shopping and my new stacks of loose-leaf, so came a boatload of concerns to keep my head spinning into the wee hours of the morning.
Worries that I hadn’t completed all my summer reading assignments on time or to standard.
Insecurities about lunch-time cliques.
Aspirations for athletic glory.
Hopes for young love.
Concerns that I hadn’t bought enough loose-leaf.
All of it kept me awake at night. The funny thing is that it’s been nearly 4 years since I’ve had to do back-to-school shopping, and yet I still find myself suffering from Late August Induced Insomnia.
First-day-of-class anxieties have been replaced with real-world “grown-up” worries. In the art world, a gallery season often kicks off in September. My next opening looms right around the corner. Offices return to full-steam-ahead. Galas and fundraisers sneak in before the close of the fourth quarter. Holidays creep closer. Somewhere in all the hullabaloo of responsibility, I have a social life, a family life, and a romance to maintain.
It’s past my bed time as I put my head to my pillow on Labor Day night, but I’m far from sleepy. For a fleeting moment, I wish my biggest worry was a book report on The Great Gatsby due in class tomorrow.
…But maybe that’s only because I know the grown-up me would ace it.