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Suspended between dreams and consciousness, I love the moment after waking | Hannah Jane Parkinson


Each morning upon waking, before I open my eyes, I like to pretend the passing cars are waves. They come in steady rushes, evenly spaced by the speed bumps on the rat run. If I listen with the correct balance of imagination and concentration, I am on a beach somewhere far, far from home.

People talk of that brief, disorienting flicker that can occur when waking: where am I? A sort of GPS failure in the liminal space between the unconscious and conscious states. I love this moment. It means I could be anywhere and anyone. I am Louis’ queen waking in a king-sized Versailles bed. I am swinging into life from a hammock beneath absurd azure skies. I am stirring from a nap after winning multiple prizes, which is a tiring affair.

Quite aside from the opportunity this moment affords for fantasy – before the day’s unread banalities come crashing into the brain’s inbox – it has other benefits. If, despite not being five, you are still prone to nightmares, as I am, then waking will offer respite; escape from whatever monster sought your head between its jaws, or the crosshairs of a gun that was aimed at you. If the dream was pleasant, the sudden tip back into reality is bittersweet. But it’s nice to languidly stretch one’s body while analysing the imaginary excursion and dwell on what might have been. You can’t truly appreciate the dream while in the dream; it’s the seconds after it that count for most.

Of course, for chronic insomniacs, waking up is always going to be a little like the poverty-stricken dropping a pound coin down a drain. Nothing to be celebrated. So it is true that often my first thought upon waking is to go back to sleep. And if that is possible, there is joy in that, too.

There is a different, and unfortunately all too rare, bliss in waking up to the realisation that one has had a perfect, dreamless sleep: deep, sound and lengthy. This kind of sleep happens perhaps once a year for me, but I imagine it is the exact same taste as the elixir of life, if such a thing existed. A sleep like this and I’d win the Tour de France on a tricycle.

As it goes, I won’t know what it’s like to win the Tour, even on a regular bike. Except if I were to dream about it: in that moment of waking, when I’ll be able to feel the metal’s imprint on my skin; the taste of sweat on my upper lip. Those moments as sleep dissipates, and either the life of the dream is tangible, or time seems shaken out, taut and new.

Source: TheGuardian