“For a long time I would go to bed early,” the novel famously begins. The opening sequence submits awakening from sleep as a near-psychedelic experience of projection, described in a way that struck a particular chord with me, what with all the moving around that Kelly and I have done in the last two months. With that in mind, please indulge me this clumsily edited quotation from the first portion of Proust's novel:
For me it was enough if, in my own bed, my sleep was so heavy as to completely relax my consciousness; for then I lost all sense of the place in which I had gone to sleep, and when I awoke in the middle of the night, not knowing where I was, I could not even be sure at first who I was... but then the memory – not yet of the place in which I was, but of various other places where I had lived and might now very possibly be – would come like a rope let down from heaven to draw me up out of the abyss of not-being....A relief for the narrator of Swann's Way, to be sure. But what, M. Proust, is one to do if, like me, one opens his eyes each foggy-eyed morning to this puzzle of indeterminate wall-and-ceiling geometry?
It always happened that when I awoke like this, and my mind struggled in an unsuccessful attempt to discover where I was, everything revolved around me through the darkness: things, places, years. My body, still too heavy with sleep to move, would endeavor to construe from the pattern of its tiredness the position of its various limbs, in order to deduce therefrom the direction of the wall, the location of the furniture, to piece together and give a name to the house in which it lay. Its memory, the composite memory of its ribs, its knees, its shoulder-blades, offered it a series of rooms in which it had at one time or another slept, while the unseen walls, shifting and adapting themselves to the shape of each successive room that it remembered, whirled round it in the dark....
These shifting and confused gusts of memory never lasted for more than a few seconds.... Certainly I was now well awake; my body had veered round for the last time and the good angel of certainty had made all the surrounding objects stand still, had set me down under my bedclothes, in my bedroom, and had fixed, approximately in their right places in the uncertain light, my chest of drawers, my writing-table, my fireplace, the window overlooking the street, and both the doors.