IIt is late at night in the hottest week of the year and the air is made of meat. I am lying in the dark thinking about the cardboard beds of the Olympians. A runner posted photos of the beds (long boxes, creatively stacked) before they were installed in the Tokyo Olympic Village, explaining that they had been designed to support the weight of a single person to avoid intimacy between the beds. competing. Another athlete called them “anti-sex beds.” If I were an Olympian, which I am currently not, I would take it as a challenge.
Wouldn’t there be some glory in traveling to Tokyo after all this, these years of muffled fear and immediate loss? And then, enjoy the best vacations of your life, eat all the food you had denied yourself during months of training, explore a new country, and find new, yogic ways to sleep with the fittest people in the world in beds that they collapse when wet? Yes.
I turn and I turn again. Would you sleep better on a cardboard bed than on this king-size fire pit, all the cool long-heated pillow patches, the only breeze coming from the cat jumping out the window and shaking the curtains? On the other side of town, nightclubs are opening for the first time. I count their emotions like sheep.
The pleasure of getting ready with your new top to go out, a splash of vanilla leg oil, the first step into the dark well of a place built for dancing and flirting, where a thousand spilled pints have melted and the floor is volcanic. The music is so loud that it is no longer music, but a kind of weather or flu, something that creeps inside of you through a rift in your attention and reverberates from the inside out. Putting on heels for the first time in two years, that exquisite pain slowly turning to agony, every bad memory, every throwaway insult that now lives on the ball of the foot, throbbing to the beat. Bathrooms. You have missed this, this club within a club, the soft center where vanity, excretion and lust come together to wash their hands. The smell of a bubble gum spray. Will these nightclubs be anxious, moving toward a stranger, “SORRY, LET’S SAY AGAIN?”, In that midnight feeling of being drawn deeper into the crowd? Will they remember how to order a drink? Will their joy be great enough to silence all scruples about rising infection rates for a time?
Summer nights here in the suburbs are quiet, but for kids drunk with the power of their own family Ford key, and foxes yelling at cats and a person smoking loudly on the phone with someone in Turkey. Yet my boyfriend and I, despite living here for a few years, are still somewhat in tune with the noise of the city, and we both sat with a start when we heard crystals and commotion at 5 in the morning. I tear open the curtain, ready to scream or run, and find myself in sight of an elderly milkman slowly passing by on his float.
What else to count to sleep? I land on blessings. This is the time of night when I start to wonder about a sore throat or if the baby is breathing strangely. Diseases are spreading across England as restrictions are lifted; More than 154 norovirus outbreaks have been reported in the last five weeks; there are usually no more than 50. A few days after my friend got a ping at her daughter’s school and was told to isolate herself (along with a million other children in England), her family started vomiting, one by one. It went on for almost a week, trapped inside, in the heat. When the baby started to get better, my friend got sick. As she got better, her daughter got sick, and so on, a terrible domino drop and the sun shining maliciously through the window. I drink my water.
There are five minutes at the beginning of summer when the temperature is perfect. When the sky is blue and ice cream is a possibility, but before the heat rises to this dense, woolly height. Before garbage day is heralded with the soft hum of fermented diapers, the churning stench of old ground meat and dead flowers, the sidewalks are an obstacle course of teary garbage cans swaying slightly at noon. Five minutes, when the nights are nice: An open window means that a light duvet does not suffocate, but offers a soft caress, a little warmth before dawn. When it’s possible to just sleep, rather than sweatily teleporting to the news and other people’s lives. Five minutes of fair weather, before this swollen heat with its endless nights arrives.
August has only just begun, but I’ve had enough. All I’m asking for is perfection, eight hours of sleep, and absolutely no sleep.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism