The Devious Nap

By H.E. Saunders

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I never intend to set about napping; it catches me off guard, seduces me and pulls me away from consciousness before I can scarce protest. It must be a calm day, or a day when I have too much to do, or a day when I am bored, or really any kind of day at all, because naps are devious in that way.

You never say to yourself “Wow, today would be a great day for a nap. I will go home, walk the dog, nap, prepare dinner, sort laundry, and tidy the house.” No, no. Instead what we say is “I will be productive. I will go home, walk the dog, prepare dinner, sort laundry, and tidy the house.” Of course you can insert whatever other events you would like in this scenario; perhaps you hate laundry and absolutely refuse to do it unless you are down to only one pair of clean underwear and one pair of slightly used socks. I will not judge.

I personally love the fluff of clean fresh clothes and the warmth of them as they are just finished in the dryer. I love nothing more than to bury myself in their inviting softness and heat; to pull a collection of blouses and towels to my face and let the warmth tingle through my skin. It reminds me of when I was young and my mother would pile mounds and mounds of laundry onto her bed for sorting (I have four siblings so really it was a mountain) and I would dash into the room and throw myself headlong into the heap.

If I was quick, or she was in a playful mood, I would be able to burrow between the pants and blankets and socks and school uniforms and curl up like a kitten. The joy was always short-lived, however, because she would either snatch me from beneath the laundry and task me to sorting and folding, or she would leave me be to play, but the heat would dissipate too quickly, escaping through the sleeves and thin fabrics. And I would be left in a pile of nothing; a mountain of chores and stack of responsibility. But the memory of those moments in my kitten laundry cave is so delicious that I cannot stop myself from pulling my toasty laundry to my face every time as I pull it from the dryer. My eyes close and my heart sighs and my skin tingles.

But laundry isn’t always so indulging and sometimes a nap surprises me when I am trying to hide from responsibility. I suppose some would call it stress napping but I call it playing hide-and-seek with reality. All of the to-do lists and bills and appointments are very firmly stuck in the calendar, while my naps are endless diversions that care nothing of the calendar, if they even acknowledge it. And when I awaken, usually to find I have just missed an appointment or to-do item, I am always surprised at the devious nature of the nap.

When I call my missed appointment to apologize (and reschedule – reality requires it) I never tell them I was napping. I am quite sure the person on the other end would not understand. He or she would assume me to be lazy or inconsiderate, when really truly I am a simple victim. I made no plans to miss our appointment, to leave reality behind. The nap reached out and snatched me; kidnapped even! To be angered with me is to be angered with the victim. I was helpless as my eyes drooped and the world became hazy around the edges. I was still planning on going to my appointment, so my nap, ever so deviously, slipped my mind into a dream. Perhaps it’s a moment’s wandering about how the pool feels right now, on this hot summer day; how I could dip my toes into the water and let the coolness tingle up my leg, my side, my back up to the top of my head and the chill runs back down and the water is so bright and enticing and . . .

– H.E. Saunders