Monday, January 10, 2011

Katie McMahon: Oatmeal Before Bed

Sometimes, when it is very late at night, I make the decision to eat oatmeal before bed. I always feel the most hungry right before bed and drink cups of tea or cold water to make the hunger go away long enough so that I can fall asleep. But sometimes, I get so cold or I can’t sleep because I keep thinking about what will happen to me tomorrow. Who will I meet or what will I say to people I already know? Will the washing machine be open so I can wash my towels? I wish I read more books. I wish I could wake up early and walk in the park as the sun comes up. I want to have a dog someday. Soon, I start thinking of the time we were sitting in the library and the elevator made a loud sound, like a scream. It wasn’t a scary scream, but a sighing scream of frustration, which is maybe even scarier. Then, I start thinking: oatmeal. oatmeal. oatmeal.

I like everything about making the oatmeal. Boiling the water. Looking at the bowls in the cupboard, which don’t look round at all from the side, but curvy and misshapen. Looking at the roundness of the bowl from the top as it sits on the counter. Ripping open the packet of instant maple oatmeal and pouring the dry oats into the round bowl. Letting the water drip from the hot pot into the bowl and stirring the oats until they are thick and gooey. The maple smell climbing out of the steam. The waiting. Most times not being able to wait and putting the bowl into the microwave for ten or fifteen seconds. Letting spoonfuls of milk fall into the bowl. Sometimes there are walnuts, but usually it’s just the oatmeal sitting there in the bowl with a spoon.

I lie in bed and scoop tiny spoonfuls into my mouth. I slide the empty bowl onto the bedside table. Instantly, I feel warmth and I know I will sleep and dream dreams about walking in the park with the sun on my face, or dreams about sleeping under warm covers with warm cats at my feet.

Sometimes, when it is very early in the morning and I know I need more sleep, I eat oatmeal before going back to bed. When I wake up again, I don’t eat oatmeal again. I don’t eat anything until lunch. I go about my day doing lots of different things or nothing at all. I meet lots of different people or sometimes I just see the same people I see all the time, or people that I at least know I’ve seen before.

What I’m trying to say is that I’ve met a lot of people today, but none of them were you.

Okay, what I really want to say is that decisions are just decisions. We have to make them all the time. Eating oatmeal before bed is not good or bad; it is just another decision that I make, but it is one of my favorite decisions. Do you understand?

Sometimes I think I make my decisions based on my degree of loneliness, but in the end, I always choose whichever choice will leave me loneliest. I’m starting to understand that I like to make decisions that sometimes result in pain and suffering for myself. You might think this sounds crazy, but I think this is something that a lot of people can relate to.

For instance, when we sat together watching the movie you wanted to watch, while you ran your fingers all over the palm of my hand and I just sat there, staring at the screen, glimpsing at you to see if you knew what you were doing, if you were feeling lonely too. All the while, as you cupped my face with your hands and kissed my lips, I kept hoping you could find the radiating loneliness inside my mouth. That we would have something in common, but you just asked all these questions that I couldn’t answer right or didn’t want to answer. My mouth makes decisions to not share anything with you. It’s not me, I swear.

I guess that is really why I choose the oatmeal before bed, because it provides this comfort that I can’t find in anything or anyone so far. It doesn’t ask for anything, but boiling water and a spoon. It quiets me. It wraps itself around me and warms me. It allows me to put off any thinking or decision making until the morning. I have tried cereal. I have tried toast with peanut butter. But, for now, I like oatmeal before bed the most. I wish I could explain it better.

Katie McMahon is a lady who lives in the North Hollywood area. She has a bachelor's degree that she keeps on her bookcase and looks at sometimes. She is getting a master's degree to put on her nightstand. Sometimes she takes pictures which you can look at here:, but you don't have to if you're busy right now.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks Katie. This may be the best one I've read from you so far.