Earlier this week when three of our alarms went off at once, the sound for a moment was visible. Before I opened my eyes I saw glass shattering, the pieces glittering as they scattered. As I got up the image lingered. I wish I could have held it longer. Oldest sets two alarms for morning—5:55 and 6:00 a.m.—and when the first went off that morning I took this lovely comfort in the fact that we all had five more minutes before facing the day. I remember nothing else about those five minutes—the next thing I knew was that vision of sound as shards of glass, spraying out into the dark. I suppose I had fallen asleep just enough to dream.
This is one of the luxuries of life, I think: waking up and realizing you still have time left to sleep. The extra rest is a gift. But that chance to lie still in a place between two worlds—between waking and sleeping—that is also a gift. I love that kind of edge-place, and the way it breaks in on reality.
Maybe my love of those in-between places is a throwback to the myths and fairy tales I loved so much as a girl. They resonated deeply and caught my imagination. They filled me with wonder, and a part of me always believed they could be true. Maybe I was supposed to grow up and put aside all fantasy. But no. The thing I’ve learned, getting older, is that most of the time this world is stranger and richer than we expect it to be. Not that I don't have a grip on reality, and not that that reality isn't full of pain and frustration, sometimes. But dreams break in on alarm clocks breaking in on sleep. Those things that we think of as larger than life or outside reality—the myths and fairy tales and flights of fancy—they are braided all through life. And the wonder—it is there in the corners and edges and small hidden places, and it is more true than I could have hoped.