I’ll admit it—I had been under a lot of stress.
It seemed like everything in my life was all of a sudden coming to a head. I was living 2600 miles apart from my wife in what may very well be the world’s worst bachelor pad. My school orchestra was performing at the Midwest Clinic, the world’s most prestigious pre-college music event. I was gigging like a fool. And I had decided to leave my job but not tell anyone just yet. I was in hardcore orchestra director mode, recording rehearsals and listening back while furiously scribbling notes, trying to keep my temper in check and my outlook positive so as to not go postal on the kids.
Layers upon layers of pressure…
I collapsed most nights on the couch, intending to watch a little Netflix but falling asleep in some contorted position moments after kicking up my feet. But I always made sure to set my multiple iPhone alarms the moment I walked in the door, knowing that, if I didn’t, I would be likely to fall asleep before even thinking about it.
My Brush With Surreality
One morning, with a wooden taste in my mouth and a feeling of unease creeping into my mind – my circadian rhythm felt off – I was asleep in a vampiric pose, arms crossed over my iPhone.
I glanced at the clock—7:30 am! That was a full two hours past my alarm. I’d never slept that late. What the heck?
I got up and staggered groggily into the bathroom to brush my teeth. As I turned to face the bathroom mirror, I gasped at what I saw: my face was covered in blood! And not “cut yourself shaving” polite little blood spots but more like something out of a horror movie: thick, ropy blood was all over my face, neck, ears, and hair!
My initial panic at simply being late to work took on an aura of surrealism as I washed off the dried blood, revealing two wounds of surprising depth and length.
What on Earth had happened the night before? I hadn’t been staggering around like a drunk idiot the night before. I had pretty much just gone to bed when I’d gotten home.
Could I have been sleepwalking? Well, I’ve been together with my wife for the past 16 years, and she has never once seen evidence of me sleepwalking. Neither had my family growing up. It could have just started happening, of course—it had been a really stressful fall, after all, much more so than normal… but was that how stress was going to manifest itself? Also, what the heck in my place would have cut me exactly like that? I did a quick glance around the place but couldn’t find any sharp corners spaced like that, nor anything with dried blood on it (which I’d imagine there would be plenty of given the condition of my face).
Could it have been… the cats? Our cats aren’t declawed, and it had been a while since I’d trimmed their nails, so they were both sporting a pretty fearsome set of talons. Also, they loved to sleep on top of my chest at night. Usually, one cat would sleep on my and one would sleep on my wife. Since my wife had been in San Francisco, the cats had taken to fighting with each other over who got to sleep on my chest.
The likely scenario suddenly became clear, and as I came to this realization I also noticed some other wounds that, while not as obvious as the facial lacerations, were actually more puzzling.
- I had a few other short lacerations (though not as deep) on each hand
- I had strange cuts and scuffs on the inside of my wrists
- Both of my knees were rather badly skinned.
Never in my life have I wished more for security camera footage to consult (footage of my car inferno would be a close second).