We go to sleep at different times. It’s one of those things that isn’t mentioned much in couple’s advice — everyone is too worried about love languages and the correct way to apologize, and nobody mentions bedtime/wake times. He is night boy and I am day girl.
I am a zombie horror show if I don’t get at least eight hours which means I try to sleep by 10:00. I wake up perky like a meerkat. He wakes up like a hippo submerged in water; about 20% functional, sleepy blinking in the sunlight. He gains 10% from coffee/breakfast, gains another 10% from movement/sunshine, then drains down to 5% from interacting with people all day (blue ribbon introvert status). But then, he gets home, recharges, eats dinner, and continues charging until he reaches his peak energy/productivity between 9:00 pm and 1:00 am.
We are basically in our own private timezones. Attempts at conversions have been futile.
We took a 9 week trip through Europe this summer, reacquainting ourselves with physical maps, broken German, and how amazing ice cream can be. We discovered that our marriage hinges on emergency chocolate — necessary for avoiding the hanger that pops up during 5 hour bus rides and two hours of wandering towards an Airbnb.
The first part of our trip was 1-2 days in each place, and after a week or so of this, the dumplings, colorful buildings, and old town centers started to blend together like a stack of photo prints. I wanted each city to be its own separate snapshot, a distinct, clear experience, but we were moving too quickly. The places that remain defined are the ones with our old friends — the cobbled streets and parks we walked with them, the ideas we discussed, the breakfasts and beer halls — these are framed in my mind.
He tells me that being with me is like waking up. (Waking up to life, not hippo sleepy eyes). I instinctively cover my neck, because according to pop culture, only vampires say such hopelessly romantic things. I deflect him with humor sometimes, because it’s scary to own up to something like that — if you own it, you have the possibility of losing it. Other times I find myself expressing the hopelessly romantic thoughts — so maybe we are a pair of vampires.
We are a year and a half into forever. In some ways it feels like we’re just started. I miss him. Even when I’m near him, I miss him. I need to be sharing his air, his space, his thoughts.
…but then, I also crave my own space, my own air, my own thoughts. I remember how liberating it felt to break up with a person who didn’t fit with me. How open my life felt. How excited I was to be forging ahead, rediscovering myself, exploring creative ideas, traveling unencumbered. The armchair in my mind that he had occupied was no longer his and my head felt clear and free.
But of course, this relationship is different. He fits. He adds. He breathes. So I am discovering the tension of being fully mine and fully his. (all of the metaphors.) My need for him and my need for creative mindscape.
He tells me that when he comes to bed, I roll over and hold his hand. I don’t remember this, but I am not surprised. There is something comforting about the physical presence of his body, something that seeps into the odd loneliness of sleep (you might be vividly dreaming about others, but you are still alone), and eases my mind.
I can’t frame him and file him as a gorgeous day, a wonderful reunion. I have so many snapshots of him, all of our daily doings, his sleepy eyes, the weird songs he makes up, the daily coffee he makes – and spills – his rants about social justice, his excitement over his books, the way he stops and looks at me like he can’t believe he’s gotten everything he wanted, like he’s gotten away with something (with someone). These shots stick together and form a collage of the man I love, of my husband. He is not an occasional bright spot, he is an everyday wonder, like breathing or eating or sleeping, but beyond.
We don’t sleep and wake at the same times. It’s ok.