It is my birthday today. I am celebrating with a new bed. Where I will spend a third of the rest of my life I suppose.
I had a perfectly reasonable double bed with a double-bed mattress and double-bed springs. It even had history. The bed once belonged to my friend Gordon. It was, in fact, his childhood bedroom set with covered wagon carvings and a wagon wheel headboard. I painted it black to draw attention away from those childish decorations but now that I think of it, the wagon wheel probably lent itself to the dreams of the precocious little boy who once inhabited the bed—and much later to the aging wanderer that is me.
I have been feeling like a good friend just departed. Eleven years I spent in that bed. Sleeping well. Not well. Middle of the night detective novels. Restless leg syndrome. Burrowing in on cold mornings. Not so many places, people or things more intimate than a bed.
However…today I move on. A new bed. A birthday gift from my brother and two sons. We started out a few days ago with a foam bed…a less expensive version of Tempur-pedic. Hated that. Like sleeping on a futon or a softish board that retained heat. Felt dead, inanimate, impassive. It is back at the store.
NOW, I have a brand new normal king-size bed. All clean and shiny and springy—no dust mites—those little hairless tarantula-like creatures that supposedly inhabit all of our beds, couches, chairs, pillows……………eeeeek!
This transition reminds me of other beds of which I have been fond. My first bed for example. Minnesota cabin. And a mom who firmly believed that all little girls need their own room, bed and privacy, and bought a new bed for me when money was ever so scarce. Thin mattress, stiff springs, and a brown faux-oak headboard so tinny that it clanged if you barely touched it. My tiny room with the squeaky bed was my refuge in a small crowded house with four people, two or three dogs and various lambs or birds or ducks depending on who needed shelter at what time of year. I loved that room and that bed. Where I dreamed of books and cities.
Then there was the marriage bed. It was okay.
And all of the beds in all of the apartments and hotels all over my world. Boards covered by thin mats in Egypt and the Philippines. Big king feather bed with many-thread-count sheets watching a Queer Eye for the Straight Guy marathon because the conference I was attending in Chicago was so unutterably boring. Beds with blankets reeking of cigarette smoke in 1-star Paris hotels. Beds in my friends’ Manhattan apartments where the dogs curled up near my head all night. Mattress on the floor in Ouagadougou observed in the night by a big fat spider. Mattress that smelled ever so faintly of pee in a cute attic room in Suceava.
And I suppose eventually the death bed.