“Kate and Nigh-Nigh” watercolor painting by kayti sweetland rasmussen
Charlie throws himself onto our bed, snuggling heavily to gain more space between us in our antique double bed. There is no sleep from that time on till morning light, and the mind jumps from subject to subject, alighting on each for no more than a second. I am assured that 95 percent of modern society uses either queen or king size beds. I find myself needing a step stool to climb into some of these beds. A friend once asked me “how do you both sleep in this little bed?” I told her we were both little people.
As I have mentioned before, I was regularly displaced from a bed of my own as a child in my grandmother’s rooming house. Grandma felt it expedient to collect a little money for the room since I could very well sleep on a couch or large chair. I always slept with my mother while my father was at sea, cuddling a stuffed raccoon until my mother took it away from me before I left on my honeymoon. I am embarrassed to admit that I often wonder what happened to that comforting furball.
Once “bed” imprinted itself on my brain, I began thinking of various people I know and the beds they choose to sleep in.
When visiting an old high school friend, twice divorced, I noticed she had a single twin bed in her boudoir. Though she always seemed to be looking for a new boyfriend, I felt the bed was a clear signal that she chose to sleep alone and probably gave second thoughts to a prospective suitor should he have been invited into her bedroom. It reminded me of a sleepless night in Rome when the only available bed was a cot-sized single, which Dr. Advice and I shared. While he snored, I stared at the ceiling.
Another young woman of my acquaintance divorced a nasty husband who took the bed from their bedroom while she was at work. The empty space echoed her empty pocketbook, and left her with the possibility of displacing her children from their snug little beds, or sleeping on the sofa. Her older sister came to offer consolation and told her it was imperative that they buy a bed immediately, else “how did she expect to entertain?”
Many years ago my sister-in-law and I while looking for the bathroom in an older bachelor cousin’s home came upon a flimsy nightgown hanging on the back of the door. We giggled and wondered what her mother would think. She later became his seventh and last wife. No idea what size his bed was.
Once long ago on a night trip with two small children, we pulled over to the side of the road to sleep. Shortly thereafter, a tremendous roar occurred directly over our sleeping heads. Our two year old sat bolt upright in her sleeping bag, eyes as big as saucers. Unwittingly we had bedded down under a railroad track. Since then we have spent numerous nights in tents, in the back of a pickup truck and lying on the open ground under the stars with chipmunks darting over our faces. I don’t recall losing a lot of sleep on any of those occasions. Maybe I have more to think about now.