Bedrooms are nice places; I can't think of another kind of room in which I'm ever as relaxed. For the most part, I've managed to make sound decisions about what I do and do not invite into my bedroom, with one glaring exception... that being my bed.
I have a complicated relationship with my bed. I hate it, but I can't stop sleeping with it. I've heard other women compare their beds to clouds or refer to them fondly as their "nests." My bed is like the mighty Sarlacc, George Lucas' mind-creature that sucks in its victims then digests them over the course of 1,000 years.
Ours was a summer romance -- the bi-product of my youth and inexperience and a tantalizing end-of-season sale at Sleepy's promising nights of endless leisure. I knew the moment I saw Bed that we were destined to sleep together. I was immediately rendered powerless by its plush, light pink contours, supple coils and bountiful layers of padding. At the time, I would have said I was perfectly rational, though in retrospect "it's named after my favorite Disney princess" isn't a real reason to buy a bed. I can't remember if I even lay down on Bed that fateful afternoon; either way, it wouldn't have made a difference. I was already smitten.
It didn't take long for me to realize that I had grossly misjudged the situation. On our first night together, I was so jittery I could hardly breathe. It wasn't until a few sleepless hours had passed that it occurred to me that the reason I couldn't breathe was because my lungs were constricting in a gentle but unyielding trajectory towards suffocation, my back tucking into Bed. As my vertebrae sank, so did my heart, Aerosmith lyrics filtering in through the creepy ice cream truck in my brain: I don't want to close my eyes. I don't want to fall asleep. 'Cause my bed is alive, and it wants to eat me...
Life with Bed has been interesting, to say the least. Sometimes Bed bugs me, but usually I find that it is I who am on the wrong side of Bed. Bed is passive and often operates under cover. Bed does strange things with science, abusing its quicksand-like properties to suspend the normal laws of physics; sometimes it can even affect chemistry. Alternatively, when I want to experiment, Bed is wholly unsupportive. Even when we sleep together, I get little tenderness from Bed. Frankly, Bed just lies there.
Why do I keep going back to bed? It's partially because a parental directive lodged deep in my system precludes me from throwing it out on the basis that it's "a perfectly good bed." And it is. For someone with a skeleton of steel and ligaments of pure spun silk.
There is also part of me that wants to fulfill the expectations of my 16-year-old self, who firmly believed that a girl's bed should be an oasis of femininity from which all other things womanly strand. Aesthetically, my bed looks like I always imagined it would, fit for Sleeping Beauty -- the only thing that's missing is the beauty sleep.
As you may have surmised, I tend to be a bit intimidated by my younger self, with her undaunted certainty and confidence in what she wanted. I am not alone in this. The standards of living formed by our adolescent minds have a funny way of turning into furniture, purchased to symbolize our first steps into maturity, doomed to become unwitting monuments to our immaturity. My own darling parents are hostage to a ghastly angel lamp; I can only imagine how much young them must have liked it. In spite of the fact that they subsequently managed to decorate the rest of their house without so much as a halo, the lurid cherub commands a spot of honor in their living room to this day. That lamp is exceptionally dumb, but the truth is that almost everyone I know has a decorative lodestone that guides them through the waters of adult decision making with magnetic waves of sentimentality.
I certainly was not above falling back on my 16-year-old aspirations when I bought Bed, which -- for all intents and purposes -- represents my first major material bid for womanhood. At the time of my disillusionment, I blamed Bed for seducing me with its plump pretenses of comfort and ostensible perfection, but the fact is, I got spooked by the largeness of the financial decision and the seeming totality of the commitment; I convinced myself of Bed's perfection rather than acknowledge that this was a choice with the potential for long-term regret. Of course, I probably would have been in a better position to make that choice if I had just owned that I was freaked out about making a "real person" decision, but as cultural anthropologist and bed expert Britney Spears notes, this sort of thing is pretty common when you're "not a girl, not yet a woman."
Pretty as it is to romanticize our younger, purer ideals, life is already enough like a game of emotional battleship without the additional blinders of Gatsby goggles. Reality may not be as rosy as the world of youthful narcissism, but it also doesn't have silly laws that give monstrous authority and transformative powers to inanimate objects. I guess what I'm saying is, a bed is a bed is a bed; at the end of the day, it won't matter why you made it yours if you don't want to lie in it.
Which brings us back to the matter at hand: to Bed or not to Bed. Ultimately, one of two things will happen: Either chiropractics will force me to get rid of Bed or gravity will force Bed's rancid coils into layers of mite tantamount to the thickness and support of a modest but sturdy cot. For now, it is what it is, and we will go on as we have, Bed on the floor, me on Bed. This is probably three years of exhaustion talking, but I have to admit, there is something in the consistency of Bed's awfulness that is almost comforting. Maybe not in the way a bed should be, but it counts for something. Sheep, perhaps.