When we got married, D and I went shopping for a bed for our new home. For 30 minutes we were choosing between a queen sized or a king sized bed. “we should get a good bed since we’re going to be sleeping in it every night and also for at least 15 years” – our rationale for eventually splurging a good amount on a king sized bed, with an extra layer of bamboo-something, making the bed so high I often had to tip toe to climb onto it.
It was a really comfortable bed. But I probably only enjoyed good sleep on it for 6 months before I started losing sleep. It wasn’t the bed of course. It was the myriad of problems we were avoiding thinking and talking about that stole sleep from me. Very often, on the bedside table on my side of our bed, would be a glass of whiskey or gin, filled almost to the brim, just so I could drink myself to get rest, on this expensive hotel-grade bed.
I remember my childhood bed, a mattress I had slept on for at least 15 years and hugged my body just the right way. In it, I spent many nights worrying about the next day’s exam, fighting giggles while talking to friends past bedtime, crying my eyes out over puppy-love breakups. This bed was where my dog would jump up onto, to cuddle with me, where I would bend over to throw up when I got really sick, and what I eventually felt I was growing out of, once i started wanting to move out of my parents’ house. This bed was where I spent three years sleeping in the dark, after my uncle had drowned in the sea, and after I had dreamt of him sleeping beside me, cold and wet. I think and wonder how I wasn’t more afraid back then. But beds are beds, and I still needed to sleep in mine no matter.
On my brother’s bed where I woke up, the day after our marriage fell apart, I remember the pain soar up to my throat, to my head, into my fingers, my legs, but finally in my heart. My eyes burned up immediately with tears, and I stumbled into my parents’ bed, dragging myself into the space in between them. My parents, half awake, put their arms around me, like they used to when I woke up from a nightmare as a child. There, I cried a deep cry, thinking I would never recover from a pain like this. In their arms, they held me while they soothed my cries, unable to do anything else to help their darling daughter. Beyond my pain, I felt theirs. I felt their helplessness, and their hearts break ten times more than mine. There, in their bed, I was once more their little girl. I remember the pain but I no longer feel it anymore. All I want now, is for my parents to know that their little girl is doing much better now. I try to show them I’m doing well, but I fear they will take much longer to heal their own wounds.
The eventuality of beds is such that we find rest in them no matter how the day went. I thought about this alot as I slept on a rickety rackety sofa bed for a month, back when I was in Oxford doing a workaway for a single mum. It was slanted to one side and so my body was almost always slanted through the night. I would wake up with bad neck aches and still, I was much happier than I was on my King sized luxurious bed. I was free.
In Mexico, where I made my bed changed alot. A mattress on a floor with my two friends sleeping in the same room. A bed in an attic with a huge painting of an old man staring at me. A bed in a hostel where everyone felt immediately like friends. A bed on an island where I got bitten by the most vicious bugs, but where I saw the most beautiful sunrise.
I would wake up one day, feeling sad from a nightmare, haunting me from the past, and another day, feeling refreshed and excited for the future to come.
In the last 8 days, I slept in a rental van, on a thin mattress borrowed from a dear friend. Driving around the North of Scotland, this mattress saw some great sunsets. From the side of a lake, to a cliff overlooking the sea, this bed took me all around the NC 500 route. Laying between me and the cold hard floor of the van, this bed gave me some of the best rest I’ve ever had. I’ve slept better here, than in some hotel rooms.
It’s interesting that I feel more at ease on a stranger’s bed. I feel more rested in a bed I will only spend a night in, than one I can call my own. I think it is the mornings that feel different. On the road, while traveling, the day is always full of mystery. I never know what will happen, who I will meet and what new things I will learn. It’s the adrenaline of new sights and sounds that make every bed I sleep in now, more well used, for I fall into such deep sleeps and fascinating dreams.