Re-Entry: Bodies In Britain, Brains Over Greenland

Baby In Sunglasses

Bring me a bloody mary and a Tylenol, I'm dyin' over here!

We’re back from our holiday, and a proper post on that will go up shortly. I’m just waiting for my brain to catch up with my body: having done this trans-Atlantic jaunt a number of times now, I can confidently say that the west-east leg results in much more difficult jet lag than the east-west trip.  Research apparently bears this bit of anecdata out.

What’s difficult to bear, at the moment, is the disruption to the Bean’s sleeping patterns. Because a disruption in hers inevitably means a disruption in ours. Case in point: she woke up at 1 am Monday and didn’t go back to sleep for six solid hours. Owing to Trev having wrenched his back (proof that there may be such a thing as Too Much Bodysurfing), I was left holding the baby, sometimes literally.

From 1:30 – 3:00 I tried, valiantly, to get her to fall asleep in her room. I stood in the middle of the floor, holding her while gently swaying. I lay on the futon, first while cuddling her, but after being kicked in the crotch for the nth time, decided to put her in the crib, while lying on the futon myself, occasionally whispering “shh” when she moaned.

“Handt,” she wailed at one point. “Want handt!” So I gave her a few fingers to hold. She drifted off quickly. Then my arm fell asleep. Initially I thought I could deal with it, but it occurred to me that the arm in question was my right arm, the one that’s responsible for my typing speed and my marginally competent mordents and my occasionally pretty handwriting. Having it amputated was too high a price to pay in return for more sleep.

I tried to disengage, but she had a death grip on my middle finger. I laid hold of my numb arm with my good hand and pulled, hard. She muttered and groaned, but still she held fast. Finally, I sat up and wrenched my arm away. She woke up, squawking, and I went on letting her squawk until the feeling returned to my fingers.

By this point, it was already beginning to get light. The Dawn Chorus had started. Eve left off squawking and decided to start rifling through the toybox at the end of her bed. “It a dolfin,” she chirped. “It a whay-le.”

I made one more effort to get her to sleep, taking her into our bedroom and planting her in the middle of our bed. But no sooner had I lay down beside her than she hopped up, eager to look at herself in the mirror hanging behind our headboard. She slipped and put a knee in my eye. Trev, attempting to dodge her falling butt, yanked his back again and cried out sharply. I gave up.

It was 3:50 by this time. I popped Eve on the sofa and turned on My Neighbor Totoro. I filled up the moka pot and frothed milk. I  knocked back the bread dough I’d left to rise the night before, and fired up the oven to full whack. I put on my running clothes. While Eve twiddled her toes and played with blocks and talked excitedly about the soot gremlins on the TV, I noticed the sunlight creeping across the mirrors and the sofa and the dining room table.

I slipped into the chilly garden, barefooted, breathing in the herb-scented air, to listen to the birds’ morning report. Dewy spider webs spangled my climbing roses, which scaled the fence in frothy pink clusters. Crimson and purple clouds lay spread across the eastern sky like rags of silk.

All creation seemed to lie before me, renewed and refreshed and splendid, extending in that golden moment a hand– a hand of loving grace, a hand rich with gifts and  heavy with promise. A hand, dear readers, that I would gladly have bitten off at the wrist in exchange for ten straight hours of sleep.

I mean, really.



  1. She likes all of those little things, but the dolphin/whale (dohle? wholphin?) gets the lion’s share of the love.

  2. We’ll save these posts for the compendium.
    In the meantime I’d submit this little essay to the New Yorker right this minute! at least the Readers Digest!

  3. Love it…perhaps at Thanksgiving Eve and Emre can share a room and the rest of us can actually get some sleep for a change!

  4. When you look back on this post in a few years, and little Bean is off to 1st grade, remembering that death grip and the little knee in the eye will bring tears to your eyes, as will the memory of that morning stillness. I can picture every moment with in-color vibrance, and taste a few tears :o) Beautiful.

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