4:00AM Eyelids begin to flutter. Within minutes, I'm awake. I lay "still and quiet" - a phrase Alan coined for our boys when they were little and "not sleepy yet" - trying to free fall back into delicious slumber.
4:30AM Nothing. Still staring at darkness. Mind begins to wander. All of my worries creep out of the darkness and into my restless mind. My body is still very sleepy. So, I try to relax my mind. Conversation with self: "Relax your jaw muscles...goooood...relax your shoulders...goooood...feel yourself floating in a warm cozy floatation tank with the blue lights on because total darkness would be creepy [Thanks, Groupon, for introducing me to "floating." I haven't tried it. Probably not going to. But it has given me a lot to think about.]...you are light as a cloud floating in a crystal blue sky... Nothing.
5:00AM I'm more awake than I was before my "relaxation exercises." A memory floats to the surface of my thoughts. "You are getting sleepy." "I AM getting sleepy." "You are very sleepy." "I AM very sleepy." "You are light as a feather." "I AM light as a feather." Now, I'm fully awake because I'm going back in time to junior high and high school. The slumber parties. The seances. The...what did we call them?..."Risings?!"...I can't imagine we would have used a big word like "levitation." Let me tell you what it was like. You tell me what it was called.
A little song I chose because it's so bad. But, back in the day, when it came on the radio while I was sprawled on the bed trying to figure out some "stupid Algebra," it could send me into a somber, pensive, stare-at-the-ceiling, teenaged reverie.
1972. Friday night. 1:00AM.
A group of teenage girls pajama-ed and lounging in a living room. Some are meticulously scraping bean dip out of individual bean dip cans with Fritos. Others are braiding hair. Talking. Talking. Sharing secrets. Gossiping. Roars of laughter. There is one sleeping bag lump in the middle of the fracas. The girl whose bedtime is 10:00PM come rain or shine. Then, someone has an idea...
"Let's have a Seance!"
Mid-conversation, mid-bean-dip, mid-that's-what-I-heard-from-someone-who-told-me-not-to-tell, a chorus arises, "Yeah! Let's have a Seance!"
While someone runs for a candle, I'll take a minute to explain to my young readers that in the days of Viet Nam, The Godfather, and American Pie, our mothers were not the least bit concerned that slumber party seances were occult recruiting sessions.
A candle is lit. The lights go out. Giggles and whispers. A circle of solemnity is formed. Then - "Who's gonna lead it?" "Cindy! You lead! You're good at it!"
We all stare at the candle trying to concentrate on the myriad of ghosts that have been politely swirling around the living room all evening.
"Are there any ghosts in this room?" Cindy asks slowly in a low, mellow voice, "If you are there...show us a siiiiiiiiiiign."
We stare harder at the candle.
"Ya'll! Somebody's not concentrating! If you can't concentrate, go in the kitchen so you don't mess up the seance!"
Full-on, intense candle staring.
A scream followed by unison screams. "Someone touched the back of my neck!! I felt it plain as day!"
"Ya'll! Ya'll!" someone hisses, "Don't scare him away!! Be quiet!!!"
Silence broken by muffled giggles.
Then, after about 10 minutes of mysterious creaks in hollow walls and imagined icy breezes passing by - "Did you feel it? It got really cold right here (an arm waves in the general direction of said breeze), and then, it just went away!" - someone says, "Ya'll!..."
"Let's Make Somebody Rise!"
Eyes turn bright with excitement as the circle of girls - all except for Sleeping Bag Lump - turns into a 5 foot long oval.
"Susan's really light! Let's start with her!!"
"Yeah! Susan, you go first!"
Feeling especially favored by her sometimes catty friends, Susan crawls to the middle of the oval and lies flat on her back with her arms crossed over her chest. The candle is blown out because total darkness is needed to levitate a human being at a slumber party. Jeepers, everybody knows that.
The oval tightens as the girls scoot in to place two fingers of each hand under Susan's body. Someone tickles Susan. She wriggles with giggles.
"Ya'll! We HAVE to take this SERIOUSLY or it won't work! My cousin did this once at a slumber party, and they got a girl to rise up over their heads! BE QUIET AND CONCENTRATE!"
Leader (in a dreamy, supernatural voice): Susan, you are getting sleeeeeeeeepy.
Susan (in sleepy, supernatural voice): I AMMMMM sleeeeeeepy.
Leader: You are getting verrrrrry sleeeeeeeepy.
Susan: I AMMMMMM verrrrrry sleeeeeeeepy.
Sleeping Bag Lump snores softly.
Leader: You are feeling as light as a feather.
Susan: I AMMMMMM light as a feather.
This solemn exchange continues until the leader is satisfied that Susan had entered a dreamlike state. Then, the chanting begins in soft, slow whispers.
After a few minutes of sincere chanting a whisper is heard by Susan's left kneecap: "I think that I feel her leg going up..."
A voice coming from Susan's right shoulder: "Ya'll, I don't feel anything! I want more bean dip."
More voices rounding Susan's veeeeeeery sleeeeeepy body: "Me, too." "I have to go to the bathroom. Somebody go with me. I'm scared." "I'll go." "Me, too."
7:05AM in the here and now. Hmm. I'm sitting here wondering why we never levitated Sleeping Bag Lump. She was already sleeeeeepy. Verrrrrrrry sleeeeepy.