My most intense period of limited sleep was the last week of the year before my 19th birthday. After a round of parties at Christmas, I made a trip to San Francisco with a friend. The last day before we left, I had to work at the bindery where I was employed part time. Of course, I had little sleep the night before. At the end of the day, I rushed home, showered, and, after my traveling companion arrived at my house, we walked down the block to get a bus to downtown Los Angeles.
We bought tickets on the midnight bus to San Francisco, which would arrive in the city at 8:30 the next morning. To pass the time until the departure, and to get out of the December cold, we went to a movie. I expected to get some sleep on the bus, but, not surprisingly, I slept very little. I watched the dark mountains as we rode along the highway through Tejon Pass, got out to stretch my legs in Bakersfield, and, after some fitful dozing, again at Fresno. Then, after a brief nap, the bus stopped for breakfast in Modesto. There, I walked for a while along the deserted main street in the grey light before dawn. Then, back on the bus for the ride through the growing light across the fields and hills to Oakland. Of course, I had to stay awake for the ride across the bay bridge.
Once in the city, there was too much to do to even think about sleeping. We spent the day wandering the streets of the center of town, then found a cheap hotel on Broadway in North Beach, and spent most of the night in the coffeehouses and bookstores of that bohemian Mecca. At four the next morning, I was still awake, standing by the window of a second floor landing in the hotel, watching the lights of the city.
Up late the next day, and out all night again, and the same the day after that. To save money on the hotel bill, we got up before the noon checkout time on our last day in town, and stuck our bags in a locker at the Greyhound station. Then, we went to another movie, and hung out at a donut shop in the Fillmore district, waiting for the 2:00 A.M. opening of a famous after hours jazz club. Stumbling out of the place just before dawn, we got a local bus to the Greyhound station in time to get the 8:00 A.M. bus to Los Angeles. The return trip was by the coastal route, and the bus was a local, and took ten hours. Again, I expected to get some sleep during the ride, but underestimated my curiosity. I had to see where I was. So, I ended up having a few catnaps, as we rolled through the dusty towns of the Salinas valley. The winter sun had set when we arrived back in Los Angeles, and we dragged our bags up the short block from the Greyhound station to the RTD depot on Main Street, to get the bus home.
To sleep, you might imagine. But no. It was December 31st. Who wants to sleep on New Years Eve? So, after a shower and a change of clothes, it was off to Hollywood, to spend the night at a coffeehouse. Shortly after midnight, my friend gave out and had to go home. He had the car, so I thought the party was, at last, really over. But then, I got lucky. I got an invitation from someone I met at the coffeehouse. It was too good to pass up. I ended up spending the night and most of the next day in Hollywood, only dragging myself home, via the trash-strewn, empty post-parade streets of Pasadena the following night. I got to sleep about ten o'clock, and slept for seventeen hours, got up for about five hours, then slept another ten.
Now, for the cause of this rambling post: I was able to do this sort of thing for many years. But no longer. A while ago, as I was getting ready to write something entirely different from this, I fell asleep in front of the computer! After being up a mere 14 hours, I hit a wall and nodded off with my face in Sluggo's keyboard!
Aging: can't live without it, can't really live with it.