sleep to dream

My bed growing up used to scare me. I don’t mean going to bed. Or nightmares. Or things hiding under my bed. I mean my actual bed.

The headboard reaches the ceiling. It is 2-3X the height of a normal bed and the intricate carvings and designs I thought looked like a gargoyle face. At least they do when you are 6. Which is about how old I was when I inherited my grandparents antique bed. I practically needed a ladder to climb into it and rolling off in the middle of the night would cause me to check for broken bones. It creaked and cracked and occasionally the floor boards would fall out. This made sneaking out of bed tough growing up. And maybe my parents planned it that way.

I knew it wasn’t normal.
My friends had cute little trundle beds that you could pull out for sleepovers.
Or one friend even had a fancy four poster bed with tulle hanging over the top.
And to kids, tweens and teens my bed was just weird.
No amount of Tom Cruise posters or glow in the dark stars on the ceiling could hip it up.
My plain salmon comforter wasn’t doing me any favors either.
There were a few perks. Like it was easy to hide under with plenty of headroom.
I had all kinds of storage space.
And any one over the age of 50 was quick to compliment the antique that dominated my room.

My parents moved out of the house I grew up in over a decade ago.
Most of my things are in the attic.
But I still call the first room on the right upstairs mine. Because it has my bed.
The other upstairs bedroom has the cute little trundle bed I always wanted growing up.
And a bowflex.

Nothing about going home feels constant or static with me.
I know my way around my husband’s hometown and house better than my own.
I know that the coffee shop closes early. I know that if I look too hard in the drawers I might find a Christmas present. From last year. I know that you can’t go to the Coney at noon and expect to get a booth.
My own hometown is always changing. I sometimes get lost when I run. I know where to find ziplock bags and soft drinks and my dad’s candy stash. But I don’t know where to put the dishes or find a hair dryer. Even the highway exits seem to change.
And it’s not the house I grew up in. It isn’t even the house I usually visit. That one is in another town on a lake. And I keep an extra toothbrush, bathing suit and contact solution there.
But in that house I don’t have a room.
I choose. Each time. Between the one with the plaid comforter or the navy one. Both on nice comfortable perfectly normal looking queen size beds.

Last weekend I went home. To my hometown and not the lake. And my mom asked where we were going to sleep. Upstairs or down? And the question is really, temperpedic or antique.
And I usually pick the good mattress. But this time, I hauled my bag upstairs.
By the time I went to sleep – Tess and Owen were already sprawled out across the trundle bed. My husband was downstairs still watching football. And I pulled back the covers and crawled into my old bed.
The one I’ve slept in since I was six.
And everything in that town and house seems different. Newer. Nicer. With fresher paint and new comforters. There were no posters on the wall. No TV in the corner. No neon light up phone with a long cord tangled across my floor covered with clothes.
But my bed still creaked when I climbed (and I do mean climbed) in.
And as I laid there I closed my eyes and could picture my rooms. It was like a scent or a song. I suddenly could see it all perfectly clear. And I remembered a few shorter thinner versions of me laying in the exact same place. I slept in that bed before I could write cursive or multiply. And eventually that bed moved down the hall and into my brother’s old room. I slept in that same place after my first kiss. I read hundreds of books, spent hours on the phone and did my Calculus homework in that bed. And I even remember crawling in that same bed the night before I got married. I watched 90210 and cried and hoped and prayed on those same pillows and after my crappy night’s sleep the other night – probably even the same mattress.

The house is different. The comforter is different. The rest of the furniture isn’t the same. The posters are missing. The light up phone was thrown out years ago. But. The girl. The six year old. The sixteen year old. The 33 year old. In many ways, she is different. Changing sometimes as fast and confusing as my town. But, some things. They always stay the same. The carvings don’t scare me anymore. The old wood still creaks. And now, my kids are the ones hiding underneath. My current house doesn’t have a single antique. Most of my furniture comes from IKEA. The last thing anyone would notice when walking into my room is my bed. They’d notice the green shelves that a friend gave me. Or the carved brightly colored chest I splurged on when I was first married. The fact that my floor is still covered with clothes and occasionally papers and now toys that aren’t my own. But, I can climb into that bed at my parents new house and I know exactly where I am and remember exactly who I was. I know every creak. I know that I always sleep on the right side there (but not other places). I know the fan rattles when it is on high. I know that one blanket isn’t enough and that it is always further down (or up) than you think. I also know that it is way cooler than any boring trundle bed.


Kate said...

That is a scary headboard, and beautiful too. My parents have a carving over their mantle that has always made me think of three acorn people. Not scary so much as odd. But, as an adult, it's clear that they aren't acorn people. Oh, the loss of wonder and whimsy and fear.
I slept in an antique bed (after a bunk bed that was probably cooler, but the slats could fall out and since I was under, it was probably for the best) too. I envied my friends' cooler beds. But I loved that bed. It's still in that room, but it's not mine anymore, not even on visits. It's a twin. And that's just not enough space for two or three or four.