Every night Peggy leaves me drifting off to Azerbaijan. I can almost hear her silently mumbling her mantra, Azerbaijan, Azerbaijan. The record will show that I furnished it. It works for her; it didn’t work for me. To each his magic carpet. As I recall Azerbaijan replaced Honduras when she read about all the atrocities in that country. Best when the word carries no particular baggage. Just the sound itself.
My current transport is Beaujolais. That final syllable buoys me to the clouds. Not that every long “a” sends me off to dreamland. Oy Vey does nothing but remind me of troubles. Have a Nice Day, has no lift to it. Maybe it’s that middle part of Beaujolais; the zhe that has a soporific effect. Or it could be the imagined alcohol though Chardonnay doesn’t come with wings at all.
Sleep is such a mysterious gift. It sneaks up when you’re not paying attention. In fact only when you aren’t. It enters when your brain doesn’t mind or your mind has half a brain or when your weary bones are aligned with a yielding brain. When your brain is neither agitated with worry nor celebrating some gladness. It’s a letting go experience. An unconditional surrender.
Factoring in those distant baby years plus occasional afternoon naps I come close to averaging eight hours a day. At nearly eighty-six years old that works out to about twenty-nine years of my life asleep which is four more than John Keats was alive. Gladly would I have bestowed him a few.
But none of this matters when you are sipping Beaujolais in Azerbaijan. Or even chardonnay in Honduras. There are worse ways to spend a third of your life. You could be stuck guzzling Budweiser in Birmingham; Alabama, that is.
Most of the above came to me as I was in a semi-state repeatedly mouthing, Beaujolais, at 5:11 this morning having woken from a dream which vaporized instantly into my pillow. The last thing I remember is glancing at the clock which announced 6:23 when I must have nodded off.
Evidently Beaujolais doesn’t work after midnight. I call this period Severe Rest and have assigned it a value of one-third slumber. It ain’t sleep and it ain’t wake but it is a free associative time which admits no impediments. This is when I remember in which pocket my lost keys must have been left or the dental appointment I forgot to make yesterday. It’s also the time for creative writing in my head. Sometimes John Keats shows up with a nudge as if from some Grecian urn.