All You Who Sleep Tonight.

By Alison February 1, 2007 3 Comments 3 Min Read


All you who sleep tonight
Far from the ones you love
No hand to left or right,
And emptiness above-

Know that you are not alone
The whole world shares your tears
Some for two nights or one
And some for all their years.

Vikram Seth.

I couldn’t sleep last night. Almost didn’t want to. I finished the book I was reading and in the rosy glow of my bedroom lay eyes wide shut, watching the flicker of the candle  on my bedside and yesterdays movies in my head, suffocating in lavender and pretending New England was a figment of my imagination.
My relationship with my bedroom has changed dramatically in the past few weeks. Perhaps the world seems a teeny bit scarier than it used to. Perhaps January was just too cold to endure the loneliness of my living room after the watershed. I don’t know. I only know that it is only my creamy red room that cossets me in this house right now. That retreating to bed and drowning in blankets and books is what has seen me through a strange month.

It has long been in my nature to be gentle with my emotions. To smother pain with self kindness and do that which I see fit to chase away the blues. And the mice in the living room. And the stalker on the phone. To chase away the blues and to wrap my heart up in cotton wool. A heart still bruised. But beating all the same. Still bruised, still waiting.

And so I create rituals that sustain me. New tiny, very personal rituals that see me through a world I’m just becoming accustomed to. The blanket warmed on the radiator before I lay down on it. A lavender scented corduroy pillow heated in the microwave while I wait for the kettle to boil for the eau de nil cup of chamomile I balance on the little glass lace tray I carry to bed. The fuzzy cream bed socks.  Books. Always at least three books on the go. And lately the ugly digital clock at my bedside. Because I finally realised that not knowing the time in the middle of the night unnerved me.

But it strikes me that when, for whatever reason, we fall in love with a room, we smother it in scrumptiousness, to the detriment of the rest of the house. Other rooms seem cold in it’s candle-lit reflection. We layer it in authenticity for a while, stealing bits of this and that from the rest of the house, while we absorb the memories we see written on every surface and quietly re-invent ourselves in four walls we have come to trust.
Until, thank God, our ludicrous infatuation with a room, just a room Sweetheart, passes and we let the natural order of life in the rest of the house resume.

Patience I think, is the key. This too will pass. This too will pass. Winter will gently stumble into Spring. Light nights will be upon us and we will once again shed the layers of blubber and wool that keep us confined to spaces in which we feel safe.

I couldn’t sleep last night you see. After twenty eight days of burying myself in blankets, and too many quilts, and replacing the body missing to my left with a row of pillows,  my skin started to itch.  I took off the nightie strangling me, and felt on my legs, the tiny bumps of a fierce heat rash. I was hot.

For the first time in ages I was hot.   


  1. La Chouette says:

    Your text is beautiful Alison! It's very tender. Thank you.

  2. Ah! The spring thaw! Great 🙂
    Where is everyone today anyway?
    I haven't had any company at all.

  3. I'm sorry you can't sleep. I always fall asleep easily and then wake up too early and can't go back to sleep.
    Why don't you come visit New Englad and see if it's all you think it is. With your popularity on the net, you could probably get speaking engagements to help pay the bills while you're here. I would come here you speak. (Please bring photos of the baby, even if you don't want Finn around all the crowds. I just love that kid's hair!!! He's gorgeous!)
    Just a thought….
    Happy dreams.

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