It always seems to start just before I drift off. That deep, throaty growl, struggling like a car engine in the cold originates just beside my ear. It's loud as a thunderhead. If I squint hard enough, I can almost see its trajectory, beginning from her mouth, bouncing off the walls and leaving faint lines throughout our bedroom. Were I attached to an EKG, its readout would spike like a seismograph.
I love my fiancé dearly. But it’s a particular type of hell to share a bed with a loud snorer. The sound that emanates from the comma of her mouth should be bottled and used during interrogations. Most nights, I can mute the sound by ear-muffing a pillow around my head; other times, no such luck. On those instances, which happen two or three nights a week, I stare, wide-eyed, trying foolishly to will the growl into white noise and wondering what might happen were I to smother her with a pillow.
“Do you wake her?” my friends ask. The answer is of course. I don’t want to, because I love her and I’d rather not interrupt her rest. But for sanity’s sake, I must. I tap her, tell her she’s revving the engine again, and she rolls over, smiles and apologizes. It’s a beautiful gesture, but a futile one. The noise starts as soon as she nods off, whether she turns to her right or her left, or sleeps on her back, stomach or with a stack of pillows behind her shoulder blades.
To share a bed with someone is a beautiful, intimate thing. There you lay, inches away from another person, willing to expose napalm-laced morning breath, shaky legs and snoring habits. I’m lucky to share mine with an extraordinary woman: My fiancé is better than me in every way; I wake up every morning surprised to see her sleeping beside me. I figure that one night she’ll wake up, come to her senses and leave me for someone who doesn’t resemble a Russian money launderer. But, man, that snoring. What I wouldn’t give for some occasional peace and quiet.
That’s what I thought, at least. Work has put her on the road for three months and her snore is on a list of the million things I miss about her. Really, it is. Much like a city dweller who yearns to escape the nighttime sounds of slamming doors and screaming lunatics only to loathe the emptiness of a country evening, I’ve become accustomed to it. It’s another thing I love, a side of her I’m so very lucky to encounter.
In her poem “Heart Apnea” from the 2012 collection "The Bones Below," Sierra DeMulder depicts of the conflicted beauty of our nocturnal noises and their ability to transmit intimate, unknowable things.
"When he sleeps,
the snoring does not bother me:
the rhythmic growl, gravel shoved
across the sidewalk of his throat.
It is the grasping, desperate way
in which he takes in air—his gulping lungs
as if every dream is filled with water
and he is trying to inflate
the life jacket under his skin.
I babble in my sleep. He believes
I am trying to tell him how my heart works,
says he will translate the manual one day.
I want to ask him: am I the ocean?
Are you drowning in everything
I don’t say when I’m awake?”
Will there be nights when I wish more than anything for her snoring to cease? God, yes. Throughout what I can only hope will be a long life together, it will be the soundtrack for many of my nights. I’ll lose a lot of sleep because of it, I’m sure. But, man, am I lucky to be exposed to such a thing.