Off the Board, Opinion

I could sleep wherever I lay my head

During my undergraduate degree, I became a night-owl: The day was occupied by class or work, and I allotted my most academically and socially productive moments to the witching hours. Although I could never predict where I would sleep each night, I always found a place to rest if I did not return to my own apartment. Where I slept—and who I slept beside, in the literal sense—was often haphazard, but always created a cherished memory.

Over the course of my degree, I have slept in four of my own beds—including one rock-hard single bed in RVC—those of my friends, roommates, as well as a couple of courteous exes. I have slept in the metro after concerts, nodded off in the reclining Cinema du Parc seats, and fallen asleep face down on picnic blankets in the summer, burning my entire back. Starting birth control in my first semester of university induced a bout of chronic fatigue, causing me to fall asleep five minutes into lectures. Even though it was not the best for my sleep schedule—or my back—I loved sleeping in weird places; I even maintained an Instagram account to document the spontaneous naps that my fellow student journalist friends and I would take in our cramped, triangular office.

As somebody with hyperactive tendencies, McGill offered me the opportunities to keep my agenda packed full with places to be and things to do, fueled solely by Snax Coffee and depanneur Red Bulls. Unfortunately, McGill’s “work hard, play hard” culture conditions students to believe that over-exhaustion should be the norm. Because of Montreal’s current curfew and my general senioritis, I romanticize the freedom I had to stay up all night doing whatever I wanted, even if it came at the expense of my mental and physical wellbeing.

For the first three years of my degree, several campus spots became extensions of my bedroom. Amidst the stress of deadlines and papers, I was grateful to be able to close my eyes and catch a few moments of undisturbed rest. During this remote semester, I have missed basking in the Lower Field sun and impromptu sleepovers after a night out with my friends. I miss the solidarity that existed in the library during finals season when I could trust the person I waved at to watch over me and my belongings as I slept—a common bond between undergrads. 

I think fondly of my moments of rest, not because of the circumstances that made my sleep schedule irregular to an unbearable point, but because it showed how much students care to look out for one another. I am unsure if my university degree has taught me anything besides what the “Anthropocene” is; however, my unofficial education has taught me that in cutthroat, faux-elite settings such as McGill, the most impactful thing you can do is care for your peers, and look out for them when they sleep. 

My nights are now more predictable—gone are mascara-smeared pillowcases and dozing off on public transit. Rather than staying up for days on end, I sleep often and for long periods at a time. I relish in the ominous light that emanates from the Olympic Stadium and pours into my room. Though my nostalgia for library all-nighters and sketchy after-parties may be self-destructively misplaced, there was always a thrill in waking up in some alien place—whether it be a friends’ or a strangers’ house—and then the walk home that followed, where every block took me toward both greater lucidity and my front steps. Better yet was letting friends crash at my place, then waking up to share breakfast and laugh about whatever nonsense ensued the night before. I am sure that one day, I will wake up somewhere new again, but this time, without the rings of my notebook imprinted onto my face.

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