The First Night

My first night in assisted living (as it is called) was memorable. I was in a full size bed (that alone was weird since I was used to sleeping on a twin) with a metal headboard with a pretzel design.

I don’t think I crawled under the covers. I just lay on my back staring at the stucco ceiling. For the only time in my recent life, I could not fall asleep.

Every noise seemed alien.

I wondered whether the person who had occupied the place (an old woman for sure) had died or just deteriorated.

The apartment door opened and closed every two hours, for someone to check on me. I just waved at them and answered: fine. Everything’s coming up roses.

I tried my tricks for falling asleep, such as counting sheep but I kept getting hung up on an old bugaboo about the plural of sheep and the plural of troop and things like that. My God, Martha, there’s sheep in the backyard. I guess you’d say there’s a sheep in the backyard, if there were only one.

But whatever, sleep wasn’t in the cards. And something was making weird popping noises. I never figured out what that was unless it was the million and a half cartons settling down.

And soon I began to hear the familiar chirps of birds from Central Park, and the wind died down (it had been like something out of Dickens (I’d say the name of the book but spell check keeps changing it to Withering).

But that was a night to remember. Since then I’ve slept with headphones on so if anyone comes into the room to check on me, I don’t hear them.

There are lots of secrets here. I was told that after a while, once the staff gets to know you, you can get a green strip of tape on your door which means: minimal checking. The guy in the apt next to me tapes a note to his door “Do not Disturb” but it keeps falling off and I bend down and stick it back up.

In case your wondering, I won’t be using real names in this journal. I don’t want to get anyone in trouble. Don’t get me wrong, most of the people here are two ancient to really be obnoxious. But I did see my first ruckus yesterday.

A guy named Joe threatened to hit someone with his cane but he had trouble raising it over his head, so he just cursed instead. The nurses aide came out and videotaped him as he cussed her out.

But for the most part, people go out of their way to be friendly and introduce themselves.

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