Alex Fried Fun Fact: I’ve been sleeping with ear plugs since Sophomore year of college, starting with when I was living in my fraternity. Sometimes I could hear neighbors through the thin and decrepit walls. Sometimes my roommate listened to the news while I was trying to study (or while I was trying ignore the news). People would get rowdy at any hour of the night, regardless of the day of the week or if I had something important the next day. I wouldn’t classify any of these occurrences as issues or problems, but the ear plugs became one of my essentials to survival in the house.
The apartment I live in now is the fourth “home” I’ve made for myself since moving out of AEPi, but none come close in comparison to the loudness and rambunctiousness as in that Fraternity house. Even after I moved out, I continue to wear the ear plugs every night. It has become second nature for me.
I’ve been asked how I wake up to an alarm clock when wearing them. They’re very effective when they need to be: they are very good at blocking out sound when I’m trying to fall asleep, but they do fall out at some point in the night when I don’t need them. I have somewhat convinced myself that I take them out in my sleep and pelt them at my walls because I’ll find them in inexplicable places in my room days later. Some may find it gross but I think it’s funny (it’s gross).
I digress. Jeff and I have started working out on Monday mornings and are usually out the door before 7 AM. I set my alarm for 6:45 the night before, but against all odds, they stayed in my ears throughout the entire night, so I didn’t hear my alarm go off. Five minutes pass and the alarm is incessantly blaring, so naturally, Jeff bangs on the door to wake me up so I can turn it off. I’m startled awake and break out in a cold sweat. In my head, a battery ram is about charge through my bedroom door and NYPD is here to arrest me for smoking weed the night before (okay, I wasn’t that paranoid, but I was terrified). I reoriented myself back to the current state and figured out it was actually Jeff trying to wake me up.
I shuffled out of bed. I quickly tossed on some clothes and headed to the gym with him to get the day started. But after waking up that way, I couldn’t get myself together and into the right mindset. I felt proud of myself for not issuing a single complaint to Jeff about waking me up so early and pushing me to go to the gym, but I couldn’t help but feel a negligible amount of trauma from waking up so lost and scared. My brain felt different. Was I having an out-of-body experience? Perhaps I was still dreaming?
It brought back distant memories of my childhood this morning. When I was really young, I would occasionally wake up from a nightmare and go to my parent’s bedroom to have them comfort me. I don’t know what in my mind felt right about sneaking into their room so quietly that I wouldn’t wake them, only to proceed in shaking them awake and not expect either of them to freak them the fuck out. I did it anyway; I was 5-years-old, for Christ’s sake. I needed attention and a back scratch.
It was odd to reminisce on a memory that I hardly ever think about; it is so old yet so applicable to something that happened to me twenty years later, but it made me start smiling and feeling a little bit better about the morning.
I almost feel bad for startling my parents awake so many times when I was younger. I can’t remember many more times that I have awaken in such a scared state but I don’t want to get used to that feeling. It was an uncontrollable animalistic instinct that I clearly inherit from my parents. But it’s the instinct that I don’t want to visit too frequently; it messes with me.