Most mornings, somewhere between my deepest REM sleep and early consciousness, my cat, Halo, jumps up on the bed, and then settles onto my chest. She kicks in her soft purr motor.
She wants to be fed. It's how she brings me out of my best sleep of the night and into reality.
Or near reality.
Because apparently, the other morning when she was on my chest, I started petting her. And talking to her.
"Awww, how are you Debbie?" I said. "Awwww, Debbie, are you a good girl? You want some food? Awww, Debbie..."
I'm in bed-head consciousness. I know there's a 15-pound cat on my chest. It doesn't quite filter that I'm calling her Debbie. Yet.
"Who's Debbie?" asked my wife, wide awake at 3:45 in the morning.
Well, that woke me up. This is how I found out I was talking in my sleep.
OK, OK. Time to give you some deep background here.
Yes, there once was a Debbie in my life. But that was 43 years ago. She was the girl I was dating at the time. I thought I was in love. I thought we might get married. We even looked at rings. I think she liked the diamond that looked like a heart, although it might have been pear shaped. I can't remember. Maybe it'll come to me in a dream some night.
Anyway, the relationship never panned out. She ended it. She's the reason why I left Pennsylvania with a broken heart. She's the reason I'm in North Carolina.
But why was I calling my cat Debbie 40 years later?
I don't know. Maybe it's how the subliminal mind of a 67-year-old male works when in sleep mode, and a long suppressed Debbie finally bubbled to the surface, like swamp gas. I don't know.
Kim said that she didn't wake me because she wanted to hear more, but apparently, my conversation with Halo/Debbie ended when I offered Halo/Debbie cat food for breakfast. So there are no ghosts in my closet.
Conversely, I keep hoping to catch Kim in mid-dream some night, but all she does is snore.