you know the feeling of waking up in the middle of the night, slightly uncomfortable by the need to answer nature’s call but not so uncomfortable that you are actually motivated to shuffle out of the the perfect combination of warmth and body position?
and then it happens: the ever-jarring bump in the night. the tiny thud that sends your 2am brain spiraling into the abyss of midnight imagination.
last night, i heard a shuffle…or maybe it was a tiny squeak. regardless, it caused my mind to imagine that we’d forgotten to lock the door and that someone had wandered into our apartment. just 5 steps and 24 stairs down was a stranger, pondering where we keep our gold and precious metals…or perhaps concocting a plan to coerce our cat into meowing just long enough for him/her to drag out our television set. joke’s on them when they realize our tv has no cord and is only used for connecting to a laptop. (but joke’s on us when we’d later realize that a mere cord would make it perfectly viable for stealing and using to watch whatever they play on tv these days.)
on the heels of the first kerplunk was a swooshing sort of noise; obviously the thief/wanderer was slowly making his/her way towards the stairs in their ski pants. and despite their desire to pillage unnoticed, my keen sense of hearing and high level of paranoia would prevail.
when i didn’t hear anything for a few moments, i almost convinced myself that it was just our cat exploring her new 100% cardboard castle downstairs. the squeak would be her excitement at the lavish gift we had bestowed upon her, the shuffle would be initial uncertainty about how to approach such grandeur, and the swoosh was obviously her tail against the first cut-out entryway.
in my mental preparation to leave my blanket of warmth and new-found security, i glanced up and saw that our cat, in fact, was sound asleep in her bed- a mere six feet from where i was now spiraling into another, and more likely, scenario.
it was now obvious to me that the intruder was not a thief; otherwise those ski pants would be swooshing all over the place as he or she snatched our 10-year-old laptops and climbing guide books from the living room. from the evidence, or more recent lack of evidence, i concluded with relative certainty it was one of the homeless fellows that i would occasionally see sleeping in the stairwell of our building. it was a very cold night, after all, so i couldn’t really blame him for wanting a warm place to rest his head. i imagined him curled up on our cozy carpet, led to our unlocked door by the welcoming wreath outside…and i smiled sleepily to myself, covered my feet (because everyone knows- just in case it is an unwelcomed guest with malice in their heart- they go for the feet first), and fell back asleep.
consequently i woke up a few hours later to the call of nature and my alarm going off simultaneously…and with very toasty toes.