11 April 2005

Taking Naps

Remember how awful naps were when we were young? In kindergarten, we always had graham crackers and apple cider and then took a half hour nap, and oh how I hated it. Sleep in general just seemed to be so uninteresting. It involved things like laying down and not doing anything--and for hours. Of course, I loved daydreaming, but that's an entirely different matter.

I was also amazed for years at my parents' ability to fall asleep in minutes. While sitting up. Right in the middle of watching a television show. I would sit there, listening to them snoring in unison, vowing to myself that I would never be that old. Not that I thought of my parents as old, and I still don't, but sleeping in a chair--that was definitely a more aged thing to do. I remember actually sitting in a chair once with my eyes closed, trying to fall asleep. After a good forty minutes, I gave up. Obviously, I was just not the napping type.

Or so I thought. Now, I can nap anywhere. It's disturbing really. Part of me hates getting into the habit, and the other part says "but it's just a few minutes, and it's so nice." Guess which part wins. Last year, around final exams time (I no longer recognize December and May as months, it's just "final exams time"), I started falling asleep while reading in the comfy chair in my room. I wasn't pulling all nighters; I've never been that type. Just five or ten minute power naps. At first I fought to stay awake, but after a while I gave in. I've even learned how to do it in public. Right in the middle of the library lounge: nap. In the middle of Sparty's cafe: nap. In the law school lobby. On the steps outside the law school. In class (ok, not intentionally, and only twice--but if I could figure out how to do it with my eyes open, I'd be there). Even when waiting in the reception area while waiting for my car to be repaired. Nap, nap, nap, nap.

What's the point of this? I would have hoped by now you'd have realized I don't always have points, but this time I do. Becoming an adult isn't about the big changes. It's not about getting the right to drive, or vote, or drink. It's not about getting a bachelor's degree, or living on your own for the first time. It's not about your first "real" job or first "serious" relationship. Ok, maybe it's about all of those things a little bit; I mean, those are obviously social milestones. But for me, it's the little things. The subtle changes in everyday habits. The slight change in how you view something or someone compared to how you would have not so long ago. The things that occupy your mind. The things you appreciate more. The things you understand better.

I hear people all the time say things like "I'm just not the same guy I was a couple years ago." Honestly, I'm not sure that I'm so drastically different from the guy I was in college, or high school, or even kindergarten. And I'm not sure that whoever I am in thirty or forty years will be much different than I am now. I can look at photos of my Mom from when she was only a few years old, and she still has the same expression, the same presence. It's my Mom. And at that moment in her life, she certainly wasn't thinking about how she'd have that title of "Mom" one day. No, her biggest concern in that photo seemed to be how to squint hard enough to block out the sun. Often, she'll still comment on how she truly feels like she was only just going to college herself. In ten years, she'll feel the same way.

So I take naps now. My hair is receding. I have debt, and people mail me things all the time like I'm suddenly one of the important people. Somehow, I ended up in law school. Yes, at some point, I became an adult with responsibilities. For a while, it was scary, this realization that I had crossed that invisible line. But it's still me inside this sort of new packaging, living inside this sort of unfamiliar world. And suddenly it doesn't seem so bad, this whole adult thing. I'm certainly a little bit wiser, which is certainly not bad at all.


At 7:29 PM, Anonymous sleepy said...

As someone who can (and does) nap with eyes open on occasion, I can confirm that it has numerous advantages.

But let me warn you of its less obvious perils. It's much more tempting to sleep at work since I know it will still look like I'm working, for example... oh, and my eyes get really dry and itchy if I sleep with them open for too long. I suppose it's a self-regulating mechanism to ensure I don't nap too long.


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