Unquiet dreams

Sounds reverberate in different ways at night. The water clicks on for the radiators, a boiler fires up, the cats get in a fight down in the kitchen. The 14-year-old heads downstairs for a snack. Then things go quiet. Around 3 a.m. he’s watching Malcolm in the Middle before bed. The dog whimpers in her sleep until you pet her head.

When I waken, I can tell the approximate time of day by the sound of traffic, or its absence.

As I slip towards sleep, I embrace the darkness, eyes open. The glare of phone plugs exists around me. I recall other sounds: the clip-clop of cars passing over a manhole cover on our street in Catskill; the gurgle of the spring runoff in the Esopus from my second-floor bay window in Phoenicia. Wind and waves. The rustle of spruce boughs, the incessant rain-filled nights on our Alaskan island.


I learned to sleep through endless salsa jams in pre-gentrification Brooklyn, and the cacophony of co-eds throughout college.

Some read themselves to sleep, then awaken when their mind chases some unfinished thought from the day. My wife knows to simply head for the guest room. I hug the pillows tighter until new dreams swallow me.

They involve the dishwasher, which has been organized poorly (Shoes? Loose change? A newspaper?). Someone’s in the kitchen whom I don’t know. A cat in the freezer. The kitchen colander has been attached to the ceiling.

Read more installments of Village Voices by Paul Smart.