Too much going on in the room, or the house, or the state or city or country. Too many people. It is crowded and you are not quite claustrophobic. There are too many colors. The television keeps blaring. World news. Election results. McNeill and Lehrer arguing themselves into an economic hole, and the three or four of you watching it, arguing around the same issue, simultaneous, highly political, angry. The radio keeps talking, loud 80s pop interspersed with local news -- missing children, burning apartment buildings, the dog who saved his master's life -- interspersed with pithy comments from the obnoxious nasal voice of the dj, the bright blonde female voice of his indulgent, aren't-you-the-limit sidekick. Too many things to follow. Too much.
You have six papers to do in the last two weeks of school. Three of them are ten pages or more. One of them is on a book you haven't yet read. You are at your desk, at your computer, open book below the keyboard, open notebook to the side. The first file is a list of the evidence you are in process of finding, page to page. This one is due in two days. Your roommate is running all around in the apartment behind you, getting ready for some date or something. She is blasting punk music and searching for a lost necklace and coming in asking you how she looks, they're just having coffee, is this too much, and what do you think, these earrings or these other dangly ones? Her cell phone rings, and she tries to talk to you and it at the same time. Outside, two of the neighbors are having an argument about parking each other into the driveway. Down the street, the construction workers are yelling up the block to each other, jackhammering, clanging machinery into the cement.
Trauma. You crash the car and sit around giggling hysterically, waiting for people to come pick you up. No I don't need to go to the hospital I'm fine just bruised. Trucks everywhere, and broken glass, and a smear across the lane trickling oil and wiper fluid, all leading up to the middle of the intersection, to the interlocked cars, the open doors, the flashing hazards, and the police behind them. Come home and call the insurance company and call your parents and get yelled at and hang up the phone. It rings again, and you jump a foot in the air.
You go to your room. You get out of the noise. You get into bed and pull the covers over your head. It is 3:30 in the afternoon.
Sleep is a defense mechanism. When you cannot deal with the world around you, it is one of the easiest escapes. Your body and mind shut down. You don't have to buy liquor, you don't have to find a dealer, you don't have to try and track down your similarly hectic friends. All you need is a mattress, a blanket, and the dark, and you are no longer in the world. You are somewhere else. When you wake up you can deal with it. When you wake up maybe some of the noise will have stopped. Maybe you will have sobered up and your vision will have cleared. Maybe annoying people will have gone away. Maybe you will have gotten some distance from the rest of the world. Maybe it was enough distance, maybe you can face it again.