Linwood-8 & The Night Baby
Episode 03:06:2023 - Prompt: Comfort
Where comfort took me…
In high school, I knew the alarm would go off at 7:00. I would fret over being awake at 3:57, 3:58, 3:59. How would I make it through seven hours of school if I didn’t catch a few winks? Answer: barely, sometimes not at all.
I tried melatonin, weed, and sleeping pills, but staying awake through medication designed for sleep was worse than not sleeping. The next day I’d be “mela-stonin” instead of rested. Groggy or just plain wiped out.
Later, I developed a theory.
As a “night baby”, born after 11pm, all of my initial sensations outside of the womb came rushing in at midnight. Thus, it’s completely natural for my body to be alert at night. This means I’m suited to a lifestyle based on nocturnal activity.
Since I figured it out, I’ve been thriving in my element.
Still, nothing gives me greater comfort than a real knock-out sleep. However, I’ll pay for it for days to come. It’s as if I’m allotted a limited number of hours per week and shouldn’t use them all at once.
What’s my secret to feeling restored after a short night of sleep?
I visit 1015 E. Slocum Street.
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My grandmother, Dora, lived to 101 years old.
She resided in the same row house until she decided to stop walking at 95.
She never drove a car. Never smoked. Didn’t drink.
When my grandfather, Michael - my namesake - died at sixty, Dora took his position as a fiduciary for the City of Philadelphia and worked into her eighties.
When someone lives in the same house throughout generations - Dora’s mother, husband, children, grandchildren, and even some great-grandchildren - the environment holds onto its impressions.
Mom-mom Dora never threw things away.
Because the house never changed, I’m able to visualize its rooms, like a preserved installation in a historic residence.
In my imagination…
I can reach for the screen door with the ornate “C” for Cutler and smell decades of homemade chicken soup. (That warm, salty smell of Jewish food sometimes hits me in our friends apartment building on Grand Street in Lower Manhattan.)
I could go through the living room to the kitchen or head up the worn carpeted stairs to the back room, my father’s. The only one with an air conditioner and the TV/Radio/Phonograph unit, the first in the neighborhood.
I could pop my head into the middle room, my grandparents, that hadn’t been slept in for years. The dark wood furniture covered with Wanamaker’s bags inside Lord & Taylor’s bags.
Nothing of value, just bags.
My mom-mom Dora’s room had two single beds. Her mother, Bubby Sara, slept in one. My aunt in the other. Later, only Dora. The tissue paper in bags-in-bags continued, but there was sometimes a cashmere sweater tucked inside. Her closet of “vintage” business suits in dry cleaning bags.
When sleep is far away, I walk through this house on Slocum Street.
Awash in memories of Dora’s story about the wolf that put flour on its legs to trick the little babies before he ate them. Or her Here We Go Round The Mulberry Bush dance routine, one hand on her hip and the other on her head.
Her phone number was LI8-8243. Linwood-8.
Sometimes I repeat the number in my head, like a mantra, to make sure my memory still works, and I can conjure the taste of salt & butter spread on matzoh.
And then, at some point, I find myself asleep.
YOUR TURN: Using COMFORT as a theme through the lens of truth, consider where you find comfort. Is it a physical sensation? Something you manifest or something you buy? Is it shared? A secret? Share your story in 150 - 200 words (basically, my walkthrough section above at 155 words).
POST YOUR STORY IN THE COMMENTS SECTION.
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