My twin brother and I shared a room from womb to thirteen-years-old. Those of you who have had a roommate know that you must develop and agree on certain rules to keep the peace. For example, we agreed that the last person to get in bed must turn off the light. Paul was notoriously and egregiously derelict in following this rule. There were several nights when, in our stubbornness, he and I would leave the light on until two or three in the morning because Paul refused to turn out the light under the terms of our agreement. Of course, I would eventually give in, huffing and fuming, and turn off the light.
Another such rule required a little creativity. On nights when one of us would turn off the light, we would lie in bed waiting for sleep to come. It was common for one of us to whisper, “Hey, are you awake?”, which would inevitably wake up the other if already asleep.
I got annoyed by this eventually and came up with a solution. We agreed that in the case when one of us wanted to know if the other was asleep, we would make the faintest of sounds–a sound that only an awake person would hear. We agreed to make a “beep” sound with our little pre-adolescent voices. This proved to be an effective and satisfactory strategy.
Many years later, in the 2000s, my father, Paul, and my younger brother John decided to drive out to the Rocky Mountains to ski. It was a wonderful trip with plenty of stories to tell. The four of us absolutely love downhill skiing, so the night before our first day out, we were all a little keyed up. After lights-out, I struggled to sleep. I may have dozed a little, but by around two a.m., I was still awake. The room was still and quiet so I assumed I was the only one awake. But out of the quiet came a faint sound–one I had not heard in twenty or more years. “Beep” came from the direction of Paul’s bed. But before he could even finish the beep, we were both in tears with laughter. John and Dad may have been awake as well, but if they weren’t, they quickly were and we were all laughing together.
I think we all finally got some sleep and other than my brief bout with altitude sickness and me being saved from a traumatic brain injury from a fallen tree by wearing my first ever ski helmet, it was a glorious trip.
I may never get the “beep” experience with Paul again. Perhaps one of us sent a “beep” text late into the night at some point. But, it is no longer needed. My wife and I can usually tell when one another are asleep, be we rarely feel the need to talk in the middle of the night. Adults value their sleep more than kids.