Michaela Merz

Sleepless in San Jose

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I sleep well. And that’s a gift one becomes only aware if one cannot sleep anymore.

As a child I slept very soundly. There was nothing, what could have awoken me. We lived in a high-rise building on the ninth floor. One night when I was already asleep, the neighbours come over and invited my parents for a drink. That was about 5 metres from my bed behind the wall. My parents made sure that I am still soundly asleep and went. But what should not have happened, actually happened. I woke up and went straight to my parents’ bedroom. They were not there. I was terrified. Where are they, I asked myself and had no answer because with my then 6 years I had not experienced such a situation before. I was afraid. The balcony door in my parents’ bedroom was open. I closed it and walked through every room. No sign of my parents. Even my father’s key was hanging next to the entrance door. I put the key into the lock and turned the key around. This made me feel safer. But I did not know what to do next and returned to my bed. Frightened and tired I fell asleep again.

What happened next, I only know from telling. Sometime later my parents came home and wanted to put the key into the lock, but it was not possible. All tries failed. My mother started to panic. Then my father remembered that he had left the balcony door open. They awaked the neighbour in the 10th floor and without any kind of safeguards he climbed the front along the lightening rod from the 10th to the 9th floor. A scene like made for movies and all that after a few glasses of wine. But the balcony door was closed. My father climbed back to the 10th floor. Then he had the idea to open the door by drilling through it. In the middle of the night, close to 2 a.m., they started the drilling. Almost the entire house came around. Everybody wanted to know what idiot is drilling in the middle of the night. A worried but at the same time cheerful atmosphere came up. I was sleeping, despite the noise, despite knockings against my wall, despite shouting, I was sleeping. When they had drilled through the lock and my mother had made sure that I was well, a great party took place at our place with many neighbours. But all that I only know from hearsay.

Now it is three o’clock in the morning, I am in San Jose in the USA and I have a terrible jet-lag and cannot sleep. During the day I am like a sleepwalker. If I sit down, I am afraid to doze off and my intellectual abilities have reached a low because of the lack of sleep.

Only when one does not have something, it becomes clear how valuable it is. The gift of sleeping well is irreplaceable.

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