Some nights, lying in bed, waiting for sleep to come rescue me, I flip through my memories like a great big scrapbook. My scrapbook is divided into sections – Happy (subsections: Family, Children, Funny Stuff, Accomplishments, Friends), Sad (subsections: Death, Anxiety, Lost Opportunities), Angry (subsections: Ex-husband, Injustice) and Calm. Depending on how far Prince Valium has to ride, I flip through the sections, deciding where to delve in and where to just turn the page. If sleep is far, far away, I have to go straight to Happy or Calm. If I can barely form a coherent thought, I can spend a few minutes looking at the memory snapshots of friends who have passed away or of things done or said to me that are extremely unjust.
Calm is one of my favourite memories. It’s page in my scrapbook is dogeared and thumb worn. I concentrate on a memory of a sunny day at the beach when I was six or seven. We lived in Fort St. John and we were at Charlie Lake. The sky was always blue in Fort St. John. Winter or summer, the sun smiled out of a blue sky that surrounded you on all sides. It was never quite hot enough to get a sunburn or to cajole parents into the frigid waters but I remember it being lovely and warm.
Someone had brought a rubber dinghy. I had never seen one of these contraptions before. The man showed us how to sit on the edge of the dinghy, bum sinking into the rubbery flesh, bang our feet together to get rid of sand and then swing our legs over the side and into the boat.
I’ll never forget that shocking, sensual, surreal feeling as I rested my feet on the bottom of the boat and felt the water not more than 5 mm. beneath me. I could feel the water move and play under my skin and yet I wasn’t in it. It was unheard of! I wasn’t wet and yet I was right next to the water, skin against skin.
When I struggle to sleep, I go to that memory and imagine myself lying full length in that dinghy. I hear the water lapping, splashing, laughing. I close my eyes and feel the sun, not too hot, on my face. And most of all, I feel the water beneath me, holding, supporting, loving. Free to float around all night in my brain, I let the winds take me. Like the Lady of Shalott, I want to float to Camelot to find my true love.