I think it started when I was fifteen and found drugs for the first time. I had been arrested for shoplifting - an adolescent pastime - so the court ordered me into a therapy group for troubled youth. There I met Bonnie, the first and only person who burned themselves intentionally with a cigarette in front of me. She would giggle as the smell of burning skin wafted in the air and I was fascinated with her remarkable skills at pain management. Bonnie also introduced me to Dexedrine and LSD.
Once I started to understand how much fun it was to not sleep, the world seemed to open up to enormous possibilities. I could watch more TV. I could finish my homework in record time. I had endless hours to masturbate. I could sneak out my bedroom window and walk the neighborhood for hours all the while discovering the nuances of the sleepy hamlet in which I lived. Why sleep when there was a whole universe out there to explore?
From that moment on, I leaned toward drugs that kept me awake. No Quaaludes or alcohol here. Why bother? They would just make me sleep. Yuk.
After working my way through my various addictions, the notion of non-sleep was residue I never shed. Even when I went to bed on time, there was still so much to think about. Work duties, conversations I wish I had, conversations I wish I hadn't had, random mathematical equations. Anything was more interesting than sleep.
There have been long periods where this was less a problem than a minor annoyance. The two years I was single, before I met Billy, and heavily into bodybuilding, I slept like a baby. Of course I was working out twice a day (morning lift, afternoon CV), eating six meals and taking supplements but I slept with no guilt or worry.
For the 9.25 years Billy was in bed with me, I slept fairly well but it was dependent on my work stress load. I could lay there listening to Billy snore as I mentally wrote memos, had detailed upcoming conversations and continued to write my first novel. Of course I never wrote any of those memos, the conversations didn't happen and not one word has been written down for the novel. But eventually I would fall into Billy's breathing pattern coupled with his spooning warmth, and I would surrender.
Now I snuggle with Bob, try to coordinate his breathing with mine, put on an old movie, set the TV timer for an hour and hope for the best. If I hear the TV go off and I am still awake, then I start to figure out why I can't sleep. Square one.