Sometimes I dream that there’s a mean octopus on my ceiling.
The way I know it’s mean is that if it were a nice octopus, it wouldn’t lurk around on the ceiling in the dark like a creeper, it would just wait until morning and then come say hello.
But this is clearly a mean octopus, and as a result, I don’t trust it. I practice constant vigilance. I keep my eye on it.
Then D wakes up and wants to know what I’m doing sitting in the middle of the bed, staring at the ceiling. I tell him about the octopus problem, but he coolly informs me that I am mistaken.
I make him promise. I make him double-promise, which seems a little bit like overkill, because I have no idea why he would be lying about something like this.
Then he says, “Now go to sleep.”
And because he sounds so totally in control of the situation, and like a person who can be trusted to identify a rogue octopus, I do.
Here is where this whole scenario actually gets problematic.
D is on a business trip. He has been on a business trip all week.
This means that when I wake up at three in the morning, desperately certain that the house is beset by sea creatures, there’s no one around to tell me that the octopus is pretend. So, I sit vigilantly in the middle of the bed and I keep my eye on it. Eventually, I get nervous about its aimless flopping and turn on the light, but poof! The octopus scurries off somewhere and then I have to get out of bed and go look for it.
I check the closet and the recessed light fixtures and the hallway. I check the bathroom and the gap behind the dresser and under the bed.
I do this in a state of deep apprehension, convinced that at any moment, this hateful cephalopod is going to jump out and flail maliciously at me. I poke around the whole upstairs while the cats stare judgingly at me, and as time goes by, I begin to develop a sneaking suspicion that something is amiss. It’s a suspicion that only grows stronger, eventually eclipsed by the dawning realization that 3:00am is not the time to be wandering around the house looking for octopuses, and why am I standing in the hallway?
Then, duly mortified, I abandon the search and creep back into bed.
So, this is my problem. It’s a very specific problem, and unfortunately, there’s only one real solution.
I want that solution to be a particularly advanced form of dream-control, or some clever and ingenious octopus-trap, but it’s not.
First, to be very, very clear:
I have never-ever-ever been scared of the dark. Ever. In fact, I was that weird, compulsive little kid who turned off every light in the house and pinned the curtains together with a binder clip and put a row of stuffed animals against the crack under the door so no other accidental light would get in. I was on affectionate terms with every creepy tree-branch shadow and unexplained noise, and with the ghost of Marie Antoinette that I was convinced lived in my closet. I was made for the dark.
Which is why what I am about to say next is just so incredibly demoralizing.
I have spent the last week sleeping with my reading lamp on.
Which—yes—has kept my house a relatively octopus-free zone, but at the cost of my beloved darkness, my sense of self, and any respect that the cats may previously have had for me.
Aaaaaaand … this is yet another of the many ways I get really freaking weird when D goes away on business trips.
(Please come home—the cats are judging me!)