Falling Asleep Standing Up


I was eleven.  It had not been my first time on a plane, but it was my first time out of the country.  At least that I can remember.  I had been lucky.  The flight from California to New York had been long.  From New York to Munich, Germany had been longer.  But I had been lucky.  I had been in First Class.

The flight abroad had been amazing.  The flight home?

Not so much.

We were due to fly into JFK.  Storms peppered the Eastern Seaboard for miles.  The captain came over the intercom and announced we had been diverted.  We wouldn’t be landing at JFK.  We wouldn’t be going to New York.  We’d be landing at Newark.

“Where’s NEWARK?”

My mom told me.  I was tired.  I didn’t know what it meant.  I was eleven.

We flew around and saw the clouds and felt the bumps.  The flight attendants were nice.  They’re always nice to you in First Class.  I had been lucky.  But still, we’d been on the plane for a long time.  The Atlantic Ocean is big.  Germany wasn’t close to America.  I was tired.  I was eleven.

The captain came over the intercom and announced we had been diverted.  We wouldn’t be landing at JFK and we wouldn’t be landing at Newark.  Too many planes had been backlogged.  Diverted.  We’d be landing at Dulles.

“Where’s DULLES?”

My mom told me.  Washington D.C.  HA!  Ironic, I said.  With my television family I lived in Washington D.C. and yet I’d never been there.  Now I was going to Washington D.C. with my real family.   Strange that I knew irony at eleven.

The captain landed the plane at Dulles.  In the rain.  We could see the line of planes parked on the runways.  We landed and we stopped but we didn’t make it to the terminal.  Too many planes had been diverted.

When we finally left the plane, I had been awake for hours and hours.  A day maybe?  A full week?  It felt like it.  We had been sitting and waiting and sitting.  Not doing anything can be excruciatingly tiring.  But the trip wasn’t over.  We were now stranded in a city miles from home.

The unscheduled stop for thousands of people meant crowded counters and crowded waiting areas.  There wasn’t anywhere to sit while my mom jockeyed for position amongst the mob to secure a room for the night.  I dropped our carry-on luggage at my feet and leaned against a wall and waited.

And fell asleep.  Standing up.

The jolt of being awakened had nearly sent me to the floor, but I recovered.  Dazed and disoriented but still standing.  My mom had found us a room.  We would be staying the night in Washington D.C.  She had told me I would be warm and in a bed before too long.

I recalled this story last night in bed while I laid there and listened to the rain fall hard onto my roof.  I was tired but I could not sleep.  Warm and comfortable, listening to the rain, I could only recall the time I had fallen asleep standing up.

11 thoughts on “Falling Asleep Standing Up”

    1. Yeah, I’m not real sure how I feel about the memories I have from childhood honestly. I’m exploring that a little in my new book, too. How our parents relate stories back to us as infants has a lot to do with what we remember, how we remember and how far back we remember. Apparently the Maori in New Zealand do it better than anyone else. Their children have the earliest memories of childhood (2 1/2 – 3 years old). But I wonder, with memories dating back that far…what has the filter done? Thanks for your comments Gina!

    1. You know, we don’t usually stop to think what the kids on our favorite TV shows go through–you and Paul had to go through a lot to add that wonderful family dimension to SMK. Really appreciate it! Thanks to your mom, too. She was probably with you during every filming.

      1. Thanks for these comments, they mean a lot. I wish they had explored the family side of the show more, for creative and selfish reasons both. I think the opportunity was there to really have some fun with it. BUT…Four years is an amazing run (especially considering some shows today don’t last two episodes). I am beyond thankful not only for the time I was on the show but that it has a lasting impression for a lot of people. And I’ll forward your comments to my mom. She is a rock. She was by my side every minute of my acting career and remains my biggest supporter. More than that, she kept me grounded. I’m thankful for her.

    2. Awesome! Thanks Susan. I’ve been pretty heavy with inspirational messages and such lately, I actually just wanted a little something light and humorous today. I was laughing at myself because I couldn’t sleep last night and yet the first thing that popped into my head was a memory of falling asleep so easily that I was still standing when I did it. 🙂

      1. 😀 That’s great. I hope your mom is encouraged. She sounds like a wonderful lady.

        I think they could have done more on the show, too. I do have fun continuing Jamie’s and Phillip’s characters in the fan fic.that I write. Hey, I wrote in a younger sister. They get married! Have kids!

  1. Love this! Thank you for sharing your memories and glad it was a SMK one (sort of). I love to read your writing! Thanks!

  2. Since I like your blog so much, I think perhaps I need to read at least one of your novels. It is strange what comes to us when we cannot sleep. Sometimes I think I should get up and write it all down and then I think I should not or I won’t get any sleep at all. Did you get up and write this down or did you remember it the next morning?

    1. I remembered it the next morning. Thankfully. I’ve had NUMEROUS times where I’ve been lying in bed late and night and a really, really good poem starts to come together in my mind. I’ve either been too lazy or too comfy or sometimes even on the verge of sleep that I stay in bed instead of jumping out and writing it all down. Of course the next morning I can’t remember the lines and my poem is gone. I need to be better at that because I think a lot while trying to sleep.

      I think you would love the books! Please let me know if you decide to read them…I’d LOVE to hear what you think!!!

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