(I can’t resist a good Cake reference! The “cutting through Jell-o with a very sharp knife” makes me smile every time.)
The first bed I ever slept in was a small mahogany single.
I did not like it.
My mother speculates that this was because I was afraid of the bed. I slept in a crib up for a long time, but when I hit two, I had kicked a good number of the bars out and they had to replace it with an actual bed. Apparently, I was fine during the entire set up process and even trotted around trying to help, but about ten minutes after they put me to sleep in it, I climbed out of my new bed, went down to where they were sitting in the living room and told them I wanted to “go home.”
I remember my dad used to say that I would curl up into a ball when I slept. Pristine looking sheets all across the bed except for a little Girl sized bump at the edge. This lead to me earning the nickname of “Lumpy” as a kid which I hated with a passion. I mean, really, what girl wants to be called “Lumpy”? So I changed my sleeping style a bit. I still curled slightly, bringing my knees up to my stomach but I was more like a partially opened potato bug than a fully closed or dead one.
I slept in the same bed for 14 years. The bed frame had to be replaced when I was about 6 (it snapped in the night and I woke up on an incline) but I made it all the way into high school snoozing on that single. However, by then, it was really obvious that I needed a new bed. Being as tall as I was (which at the time was about 5’9″), I’d had to revert to my “Lumpy” sleeping position to get any rest, otherwise my feet would hang over the edge/smack against the metal frame.
So we went bed shopping. We mulled daybeds and doubles for a while before finally settling on a gold coloured boxspring and mattress set which seemed long enough to accomodate me. I remember being really excited when I got home from school the day it arrived. I couldn’t wait to see it and to sleep in it for the first time. However, when I got up to my tiny bedroom, I realized that aside from maybe a foot or so on either side, my new bed took up the entire space.
My dad and I stood in the door frame and stared at it.
“It’s really . . .” he said.
“I know.” I said.
That first night, sleeping was strange. I knew I had the space to move around but it didn’t feel right to hog it all myself. Even though I wasn’t expecting company, it seemed greedy somehow. So, I stretched out a bit but stayed staunchly on the right side. Any other way felt too weird.
A year or so later, we sold the house with the tiny bedroom and moved into a smaller house where I somehow managed to snag a bigger one. Living in the basement was weird, since I had only ever slept on the same floor as my parents, but it gave me a little more freedom. I could watch tv in bed as late as I wanted without disturbing anyone. I could bounce around to music on it when I got home from school. I could even stand on it when I climbed out the window to go joyriding with the boy who lived down the street*. And then later, when I was grounded, I could lie on my bed and think about what I’d done wrong.
The following Christmas, I met a boy I liked. He wasn’t the boy from down the street, but another one, a friend of a friend. We met at a holiday party and stared at each other across the table the entire night. I resolved to throw a New Years Party, specifically so I could have this boy over to my house. And he came. And when the clock struck twelve, he kissed me Happy New Years in a way that made my stomach twist into a million knots. He ended up staying over after everyone had left to watch a movie. Lying on my bed, instead of watching the movie, I watched his face in the blue glow of the television and thought about how content I was in that moment. I fell asleep that way and held onto that feeling as I said goodbye to him the next morning.
This is going to be a good year, I thought to myself as I smiled and watched him walk down the street to catch his bus.
A few weeks later, I saw him at a party. He was sitting on a couch and holding hands with the girl sitting next to him. His girlfriend, someone told me.
This is the worst year ever, I thought to myself as I sobbed and cried myself to sleep.
A few months later, I got into a serious accident. I was in pain, I was weak, but mostly, I felt ashamed. My body was different now, and the idea of anyone looking at it or seeing the new version of me made me anxious, so I stayed in my room by myself. Sometimes, friends would come over and cuddle in bed with me to watch movies, but most of the time, I slept. I slept at night. I slept during the day. Sometimes I would wake up, have no idea what time it was and go right back to sleep. I slept hard and deep and dreamlessly for days at a time. It took a long couple of months before I felt ready to rejoin the world and get out of the cozy cocoon that was my bed.
My senior year of college, the bed moved with me to my first apartment where I lived with my roommate Buffy. Buffy, it turned out, was kind of a crazy deadbeat, so I would often spend time in my bedroom napping to get away from her. At least in my dreams I could pretend I wasn’t living with someone who ate my food, stole my money and brought weird men from the internet home.
Finally, it got to be too much and after an $800 cheque of rent and backlog utilities bounced, I called my parents and begged them to get me out of my horrible living situation.
“She eats all my crackers and the last boyfriend genuinely thought he was a vampire!” I cried into the phone.
So they came to get me, loading my bed and personal effects into a big moving truck. However, when they brought them back to their house to bring them into one of the bedrooms upstairs (my old room had been converted into a library), part of my bed, the boxspring, couldn’t get up the stairs.
“We can push all we want, but it’s not going to go,” my dad said after measuring the hallway. So instead, I slept on a mattress on the floor. At least, I did until about six months later when my back started hurting. There was no give with things set up like that, so it was like sleeping on a plank. I needed to figure out a temporary fix to give me a little more comfort until I could move out. The solution? An airmattress on top of the mattress. It was bouncy, but easier on my back so I felt pretty good about it. Aside from the strange plasticy smell . . . and the fact that my boyfriend at the time didn’t like it.
“What is your problem?” I asked him one day when we were fooling around on it.
“It’s your bed!” He told me. “I feel like we’re in a bouncy castle and that any big movements will pop it! I don’t want to pop your bed!”
Needless to say, things didn’t work out with him.
A couple of months later, my dad got some wood and fit it into the bottom of my old bedframe. It wasn’t as comfortable as it was with the boxspring, but it was more comfortable than the floor and it kind of felt like a real bed again which was great.
A few months after that, I met Boy. We chatted online for a while before he finally got the nerve to ask me out for coffee. Sitting on the edge of the bed, adjusting my skirt, applying my make up and getting ready for our first date, I felt incredibly nervous. Would he be funny? Would he be nice? Would he like me? With the accident and the roommate situation and the lame pop-phobic boyfriend breakup, I wasn’t sure I could deal with another disappointment. But when I got there and saw him sitting at a table waiting for me, I felt immediately relaxed. The conversation was easy and he made me laugh.
“You are delightful and I definitely want to see you again,” he told me when he dropped me back at my parents’ house that night. I practically reverberated that night as I drifted off to sleep, I was so excited.
When we’d been dating for about two months, Boy called me in a panic. “My dad is having people at the house all weekend and I don’t want to be here. Do you mind if I stay over at your place?” Because I liked him so much, I agreed, but I still felt kind of reluctant about the whole thing. I wasn’t sure to expect. What would it be like having a boyfriend stay over? And what would he think of my crazy bed?
As it turned out, Boy didn’t even seem to notice. He just climbed into bed with me that night (a left side sleeper to my right – woohoo!) and wrapped his arm around me as we drifted off. Not only that, but he was a courteous sleeper. Appropriately snuggly and rolled when I rolled. It felt good. It felt comfortable. It felt right.
It’s been a few years now, but Boy and I still sleep in my same bed. We’re no longer the courteous sleepers we once were. I have a tendency to snore when I’m sick or really exhausted and when my back hurts, I sprawl so far across the bed, Boy has to shove me aside to climb in. As for Boy, when he falls into a deep sleep, he’ll often crowd us to the edge of my side or snap his jaw like he’s chewing something.
But it still feels good. It still feels comfortable. It still feels right.
It feels like home.
*Funny sidenote about the joyriding: I only had my permit, but the boy from down the street let me drive his mother’s Old Crown Victoria around the city at night which I loved. I didn’t know it at the time, but what we were doing was kind of illegal because I needed to have licensed driver of five years in the car with me (the boy was 19 so he was not) and his mother apparently didn’t know we were taking her car. One time in particular, we could have gotten into some serious trouble because my mom woke up at four am, discovered I was not in my room, called the boy’s mother and then called the police. Whoops! Sorry Ontario government (and sorry Mrs. M for unknowingly stealing your car)!