Looking back, I know for a fact that there was good reason for my younger self to have had insomnia. As a kid, I attracted mosquitoes like a magnet attracts iron shavings. Mom always told me that I have sweet blood.
I was the kind of kid who couldn’t stop itching a mosquito bite once I started, so I often had inflamed, infected bites on my legs. It was gross.
Well, when we moved back to Germany for my dad’s second tour there, we stayed in a temporary house for about half a year (I can’t remember exactly when we moved from Kalkar to Goch because I didn’t change schools or anything). It was there that I discovered exactly how much sleep I would get on average for the next three years.
I would go to bed. I would close my eyes. I would try to fall asleep.
Then I would hear it. It didn’t matter if I was dozing or in full dream, I would hear that zzzzzzeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee of mosquito. I would snap awake. For the first few weeks, I would snap awake and find them on my walls. I’d kill them right then and there, leaving gruesome splotches of grey and red on the paint. I never cleaned those up- they were symbols of my victories over the bloodsuckers. I could go to bed afterwards and sleep relatively soundly.
It steadily got more difficult. They started resting farther up on the ceilings, or they just disappeared.
One night, I woke up to the sound and got out of bed. I turned on the light and saw… nothing. The only mosquitoes visible were the ones I had already smashed on the walls. I went back to sleep.
The noise occurred again. I got out of bed and turned on the light again. Still… nothing. Weird. I thought at first that I might be hearing them out of anticipation of hearing them.
It happened like this a couple more times before I finally thought to check the curtains.
Now, these curtains were greyish-brown. Drab, like the room. I cautiously approached them, and, taking a great fistful of the coarse material in each hand, SHOOK them.
With a ZZZZEEEEEEEEEEEEE magnified by the vibration of hundreds of wings, a swarm of them emerged en masse from my curtains.
Needless to say, I was traumatized by the incident. Later that night, I worked up the courage to go into my room and kill all of the mosquitoes, but I was forever paranoid of those curtains and of sleep.
When we moved to Goch later that year, I slept on a mattress on the floor of my room until my parents got me a loft. With the loft, they got me a mosquito net (something neither of my siblings required).
Lofts are not made for mosquito nets. Or, rather, vice-versa. We rigged that thing with duct tape and clothespins. It worked pretty well, but mosquitoes could still get in when I climbed into bed, or through holes that I had not seen.
Some of the worst nights of my life have been spent after hearing that zzzzzzeeeeeeeee of mosquito and trying to find the damned insect. I patched holes, I flicked the light on and off (the mosquitoes eventually started hiding when the light was turned on, so the best way to find them was to catch them as they flew around), I would read until I felt calm enough to sleep again.
I’m not a night person, but I developed extreme insomnia while we were overseas due to this tiny pest.