The last time I slept in a building that no one else was sleeping in was this summer while I was in Georgia for that residency, unless you count camping, in which case the last time I slept alone in a tent was at my friend's pre-wedding sorta-bachelor party thing last summer, that weekend that a few of us got tick bites. I don't sleep alone often these days, not even in a separate room or a separate bed and for this I am very thankful. Those two weeks of total isolation felt so strange to me, like walking the surface of another planet entirely. Almost every other night of my life (while not camping) has been slept in an apartment shared with other people so that even if the roommates were gone or out of town there was probably someone in one of the other apartments on one of the other floors. Although it's possible that apartments I've lived in were empty besides for me, it's hard to tell - I'm not in the habit of taking attendance before going to sleep each night. Once on Christmas I stayed home in NYC, no plans to celebrate, and at the time I was living in this pretty wild loft apartment building and it certainly felt like I was the only one sleeping there. On Christmas morning it felt a little bit like everyone had vacated the city entirely when I first woke up but later I walked 60+ blocks up Broadway and could feel the warmth coming from both the apartments filled with crammed in families and the Chinese restaurants, they were throbbing like hot coals. And I came home late that night from working a shift at the movie theater I worked at and drank alone in the light of our apartment's little christmas tree and not a creature was stirring. Are your dreams more or less powerful if there are people sleeping near you? A sleeping person seems to exert force on a space, wouldn't that force be exerted on someone else sleeping and dreaming? If you were to gather 100 people together for one night and have them sleep as close as possible while still comfortable would their dreams be more extraordinary? Would they have greater fortune telling powers? Would the unusual situation of having 100 people sleeping side-by-side in comfort prevent people from sleeping deeply? Or would their dreams talk to one another, would their dreams rhyme? Would one person dream of 100 floating hot air balloons filling an airplane hangar while another dreamed of 100 balloon animals coming to life while another dreamed of a zoo for watching people who are sleeping? Do we savor a dream of isolation? Or is that a terrible thing to experience, solitude in dreams? Do people who are locked up by military-adjacent government agencies and institutions ever get peaceful sleep? Is it comforting or unbearable to sense someone else sleeping in a cell? Does our breathing link up in some way? If 100 people were breathing air in and out simultaneously would it be possible to accidentally suck all the air out of a room? Would sleeping in a room with 100 plants be, well, a nice thing to do? That answer seems obvious to me. Etc. I've slept a lot of nights in someone's house, sometimes on a couch or on a spare bed or straight on the floor. When someone is hosting you for the night they are allowing you to enter the magnetic field of their sleep. Do you remember what it used to be like staying at someone else's place? Trying to figure out how to use their shower, that moment when they tell you where the extra towels are? Wondering if you parked your car correctly? One that I do less of these days is "where can we get something to eat around here" at any time past 10pm. It's a fun thing to do because that's one way to get to know a town but also encouraging your host to do things they take for granted about where they live is an excellent way to repay their kindness. If you weren't there crashing they wouldn't think to ever go to that diner, but now they're here enjoying disco fries or whatever with you at 2am. If you were there on a weeknight when you would wake up in the morning you might have no instructions at all besides "help yourself" and so you look around for the coffee, look around for the filters, look around, look around. You would truly behold someone else's kitchen. They might leave a note, though, or a plate of food out for you (help yourself, an amazing thing to encourage someone to do, one of those phrases we say all the time but never think about what it truly means. Help yourself. Another is you are welcome, what a beautiful thing to say to someone. Try to really mean it the next time you say it). They might not have told you the WiFi before they left for work so you take your hard won cup of coffee over to a bookshelf and read the titles, you truly behold the titles. Or better yet they have a stack of magazines and so you read something from a New Yorker from like 9 weeks ago while you have your coffee in their space. It's a precious thing because the people that live there don't get to experience this place in that way hardly ever, if ever. Most people you crash with are not in their homes at 10:15am on a normal Thursday, but you were there, half paying attention to a graphic novel while sipping on a second cup of coffee, watching the dust motes swirl in that particular slant of sunlight in that quiet way that midmornings have (negative space, people having left, rare these days). It is holy, in its way. Now we see 10:15am in our Thursday apartments all the time. It's nothing special, really, although lately the radiators have kicked on which makes the place feel new and exciting. Do you remember what it was like, slipping the spare key under the front door?
Good morning, friends -
Some weeks these emails come easy, sometimes they wriggle around all crazy while I’m trying to get a handle on ‘em. This one wriggled a lot, but thinking about staying in other people’s homes brought me some peace and the music finally did what it really wanted to do.
Other zones: I uploaded the video from my whole living room set for the Lot Radio, it’s quite nice.
Next week’s email is going to be for *paying subscribers only* so if you’d like to make sure you continue getting these little zones every Thursday, hit this button:
But what about you? Are you alone when you sleep? Do your dreams rhyme? When was the last time you slid the spare key under the door?