11:15 pm. Sleep eludes me once again tonight. My thoughts are running wild as I lie here awake. On nights like tonight, I do my deepest thinking. I pull my blanket closer to my shoulders because the air conditioning makes them so cold, especially when I wear my nightgown from the Gap. My mom bought me this nightgown. I like it because it’s soft and flowy; it makes me feel like a princess. I don’t even try to close my eyes. According to a study I have read, it normally takes 11 to 13-year-old children around 20 minutes to get to sleep anyways. Who am I to break the status quo? If I stay really still, maybe I’ll go to sleep faster.  I check the clock, it reads 11:30. Ugh. I’ll never get to sleep.

I look around my room. It is in the basement, an arrangement my younger self never would have agreed to. I used to be so scared of the basement, but since the renovations happened, the basement isn’t so intimidating. The allure of a bedroom all to myself was strong enough to conquer any fear. I used to share the room upstairs with my younger sister, it was kind of nice to have a roommate but now that I’m 12, I’ve outgrown that. I wanted my independence. What time is it? 12:17. I wish I could sleep…

Whenever I used to complain about having to share a room my mom would say, “you’re lucky to have a room at all”.  I never thought about the fact that some people had no rooms. I didn’t know anyone that didn’t live in a house. I did know that some families in my church had to squish families of six or seven into a house the size of my basement. We rented out a house to one of those families, my mom said that they lowered the rent so that they could live there. We had lived in that house only a year before – once the renovations started – because we couldn’t live in our normal home. I liked that house, but it was squishy and I’m glad we get to live in our big house again.

That family we rented our house to, they also got a lot of our old clothes. They were always so thankful for the things we gave them. They had two girls and two boys, the oldest couldn’t be older than ten. That family, despite having relatively less than us, was always so thankful. I’m certainly thankful for the things I constantly take for granted. I’m not able to sleep because my brain won’t shut off, but some kids can’t sleep because they didn’t get any food tonight. Some kids are cold – not because their air conditioning is on, but because they have no roof, or they don’t own clothes that can keep them warm. I begin to feel tears drip onto my cheeks. I feel so guilty for having so much when others have so little. Here I am in my room, lying here with new clothes, more than I could want, and a new house bigger than most families could ever dream of owning. I’ve gone on vacations with my family, we often have leftovers for meals, I never have to concern myself with my family’s financial situation. Sure, we aren’t rich, my parents will never buy me a car or not expect me to work. But we have plenty. The tears are flowing hot and fast now. I feel so much sorrow for the kids without names and faces who have nothing, but I feel helpless to stop it. Or maybe I don’t want to give up my things to stop it … I’m going too deep. I’m getting panicked and that will not help me to sleep. I decide to pray for them, to count my blessings and then I force my brain to focus on my breathing. In and out, in and out. Once 12:45 hits, my brain has wandered into dreamland, I dream nameless dreams, my thoughts reduced to pillow thoughts, but the guilt I feel lasts long into the morning.