Notes from the (Unplanned) Experiment

Dearest Rachel –

I would almost expect that your first reaction would be to read that title, turn to me, and ask “Wait, wasn’t it your plan all along to sleep upstairs in the yellow room during the construction?” Well, yes, that’s true… sort of. You see, I had assumed that the operation would be so disruptive as to render the bedroom uninhabitable; the yellow room was meant as a back up plan that I more or less expected to use. Thus far, it hasn’t turned out to be as necessary as I thought, and so I’m more than happy to continue to sleep in my own bed – our own bed. It’s where I feel I belong.

That being said, however, sometimes things just… happen. Last night, after watching a few videos together, I realized that Daniel had fallen asleep in his rocking chair. I decided I wouldn’t disturb his sleep any further, and headed upstairs; I hadn’t decided whether to watch anything more, but whatever I did, I thought it would be best to give him sufficient distance and quiet to sleep as long as he needed. After all, like you, he does tend to stay up late – although, in hindsight, he would (and did) stay up that much later once he woke up, which will do him no favors in the morning when the team gets here to work on the house, including a plumber who will have to shut of the water for the day while he does what he needs to around here.

I wonder if I can convince Daniel to come with me to the ‘office,’ if only for him to be somewhere with running water. Maybe we can even grab some breakfast while we’re out. I’m sure Meema and Poppa won’t object.

Anyway, about last night. These days, the yellow room is where I go to get out of Daniel’s way, as the family room is essentially his room. Even ‘my’ rocker/recliner in the room has gotten uncomfortable, as it leans back some twenty or thirty degrees from vertical by default. I do have a pillow that I put behind me when I want to sit down rather than recline, but that causes me to lean a few degrees forward, which is just as uncomfortable, albeit in a different way. So it’s just more to my liking to settle in up there and watch the sort of things he’s not so keen on, like sports or game fails.

You might ask about the old bed up there, and that would be a fair question. The old Jenny Lind holds a lot of memories, after all. All those efforts you made when you went downstairs to try to wake me up when I would visit you at your parents’ house (and how your mom was surprised to realize that we hadn’t done anything untoward all that time). Those first few years living in the condominium together, and getting used to living together – as well as bringing up Daniel. But with all the effort of putting everything I might need or want in that room – especially having to move (and reattach) the bed – I’m not entirely sure I trust that bed anymore. It might be able to bear my weight, but I’m not confident enough to test that out just yet, and you have to know there’ll be no more wrestling matches held on it.

On the other hand, the recliner up there is so much more comfortable than the old black one downstairs, so when I got up there, I realized I wasn’t all that much up for another video or two, and decided to just leave the lights off, and doze off myself. And this is where things turned into an experiment – could I get a good night’s sleep in the yellow room, should it be necessary to do so?

The results, however, were inconclusive. I woke to what should have been a pitch black room, except the thin curtains – to say nothing of the effects of the bright color of the wall – wouldn’t let it be anywhere near that dark. That’s fine if you’re asleep, as one can ignore everything once one is, but when one is trying to fall back asleep, that can be a bit more trouble. Add to that the fact that the room was surprisingly cold – not terribly, but enough to make me wish I had a blanket to cover myself with – and I decided I’d need to relocate myself to the master bedroom after all.

On the other hand, I’d gotten myself some five hours of sleep; it was approaching three in the morning when I stirred myself from the chair. I’d also fallen deep enough asleep to have a few dreams that – amazingly – I can still recall.

The first one seems to have involved an artist who calls herself Tabbes, and who depicts herself as a pretty tough cookie, growing up as she seems to have in the city proper (not entirely clear as to which one, although I suspect it’s New York). I think you were still around when Daniel and I began bingeing on her stuff; in fact, you may have seen everything we have, since she hasn’t cranked out anything since the Thanksgiving that wasn’t. Seriously; no content since before you passed away. I wonder what happened to her?

In any event, the storyline in my head was her talking about her dog, a tough little terrier with an attitude that ultimately, her family had to get rid of for one reason or another. He had her take-no-prisoners attitude, and so she remembered him fondly; and to be honest, that seems like the sort of pet that wouldn’t make her into a softie – not like the shiba inu/polar bear cub she actually wound up with in real life. More like her, in short. But also, really like Chompers.

Of course, we know his history;the gay couple that owned him first, who overfed him in a failed effort to turn him into an extra-large lap dog; Mommy Kim, who rescued him until she could no longer hide three dogs in her apartment, and then us. There was never a streetwise punk kid artist girl in his timeline. But you know, it wouldn’t have been out of character for the two of them to have gotten along famously. Pity it didn’t.

Then, the second reel involved us leaving the airport. I want to say O’Hare and the remote parking lot by Higgins Road, except it definitely wasn’t. I only mention it because that’s the road the planes buzz on their way toward landing, and driving on that road when that happens is a nerve-wracking experience. You practically expect to get landed upon.

Anyway, that’s essentially what happened in this dream; we passed under an overpass (Higgins?) on our way to the parking lot, only for a plane to virtually scrape the upper road on its way in. We were all but running to our car (although we never actually made it there) as the plane scraped its belly on the airport tarmac toward a stop. Somehow, even when it stopped, I knew we weren’t out of the woods, and urged you on (yes, even in my dreams, you were always behind me) before something worse might happen…

… like the plane exploding.

Suddenly, there was shrapnel from the plane where you had been running, and the dream was over. This was not what I wanted to dream – and I supposed it’s nice to have woken up from it, and find it wasn’t real – but does it really matter? Plane crash, sledding accident; just because the first didn’t happen doesn’t negate the latter. You’re gone, and it’s no consolation that this dream was just that.

So I think I’m going to stick with the master bedroom for the time being after all.

Wish me luck, honey. I’m going to need it.

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I am Rachel's husband. Was. I'm still trying to deal with it. I probably always will be.

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