Scene4-International Magazine of Arts and Culture

3:10 to Yuma

Arthur Meiselman-Scene4 Magazine |

Arthur Meiselman

This cinematically discovered point and place in time is a banner on the end of a pole stuck deep into the earth. It heralds the end of an era of events and the beginning of a new encompassing era whose end is immediately apparent. Yuma is a stopping place... all forward motion stops there.

I’m sitting on a veranda on The Peak in Hong Kong overlooking the harbor late in the afternoon, musing that image. The shimmering blue and glimmering gold of the waters are fading into the smiling grey and black of evening, just as Hong Kong itself is fading into the grey and red of China’s maw. Soon, there will no longer be a shimmering, glimmering Hong Kong, only a mused memory.

And so with Yuma. It sits on the borders of California and Mexico, a fearful migrant-repellent town that was founded and populated by migrants. It is famously recognized but unidentified in Hollywood’s mish-mash of Wild West history. And it is fading. Brown faces staring across the border at brown and white faces. Climate Change will cure the insomnia. Soon there will no longer be a dry and dusty Yuma, only a covered place and a forgotten memory of sleeping.

Some archaeo-anthropologists believe that once sentience and language developed in the earliest and now arguably the last biological incarnation of Humans, our earliest ancestors heard their own voices in their minds, awake and asleep they believed they were hearing the voices of the 'gods'. One half of the brain speaks, the other half listens—a self with benefits. It's been called: the Bicameral Mind. Today it's called schizophrenia and facebook-twitter. The self alone with the self.

We all sleep alone... in our own bed, in our own room, in our own home. The presence of someone in our home while we sleep is sometimes a strong presence, more often not. In our room, definitely, there behind the orbs. In our bed, a fellow traveler, lids open or closed. That someone might be another human, a dog, a cat, a gecko or a bolster or a stuffed something else or other.

Sleeping, not making love, with a presence in our own bed can be romantic, embracingly reassuring before and after sleep, protected, restful yet... not restful:  ligament stiffening, and ultimately, personally disturbing. It all depends on the other presence and myriad variables. If only we could tweak-control our senses, put them in 'privacy mode' with a level of 'security alert'. Reassured sleep sans presence.

The paradox is: how long can you sleep with someone in the same bed? Days, months, years?

Personal relationships are woven with threads of compromise. In bed, shared privacy, shared intimacy, opening the coat of persona to reveal what is usually invisible to other eyes, all shared with either joy or anxiety. Add to this, inexorable aging as the abandon of youthful deep sleep is increasingly diluted and REM belongs more to a rock band and less to the aging sleeper. As the shallows progress, the need to change positions often, to stretch the limbs without touching anything, to roll without rolling on or being rolled upon comprise an insidious challenge to those threads of compromise.

Now, please, I'm not referencing my current status quo. No, I've been gifted with the dangerous tool of falling quickly into a very deep sleep. Dangerous because I don't hear alarms or smell smoke or feel a beckoning touch. It takes a ridiculously hard shaking to wake me. I sleep in a steady stream of dreamcatching and I remember some of them when I wake. But I'm a creature aging in time. After I fall, after three or four hours, I awake. If there's no one next to me, I fall back to my dreams. If there's someone there, I simply can not go back to sleep. Simply can't.

I love to fall asleep with someone. I love to wake in the morning with someone. But, now… how long can I sleep with someone? Days, months, years? Hours? Minutes? Insomnia and sleeping potions aside... the answer is really another bicameral question: How long can you not sleep with someone in the same bed?

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Arthur Meiselman is a writer and the founding Editor of Scene4. He is the author of Medea Noir. For more of his commentary and articles, check the Archives.

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December 2018

Volume 19 Issue 7

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