25 April 2014
A bed's history
When I was fourteen years old my parents purchased a maple bedroom suite for me: a Boston rocker, a cricket stool for my feet, a dresser, and a four-poster bed with a canopy.
Over the years I have brought this suite with me to any number of dwellings. A third floor walk up apartment; the cottage I was raised in; a two-room basement apartment; a bungalow near the bay; a second-floor flat; another second-floor apartment; a first-floor apartment; a two-floor townhouse in a late 19th c. Queen Anne revival Victorian; and finally to my little cottage.
They are still, to this day, the only pieces of furniture in my cottage that are not second hand. I am their original owner. That cannot be said for any other furniture I own, given my penchant for foraging flotsam and jetsam from family cellars and attics, church sales, sidewalks on trash day, second-hand stores, and garage sales.
Sometimes I have the canopy on the bed, usually when I feel the need to be cozy and enclosed, and most often in winter. Indeed, I once fashioned bed curtains out of lace panels and felt like a faery tale princess in her trundle bed whenever I'd pull them aside and creep under the sheets. Other times I remove the canopy, giving the bed and the entire room a more airy and simplified look. (If, indeed, any part of my cottage could ever masquerade as simplified, given my tendency towards happy clutter.)
The mattress has been replaced, of course, and the latest structure is so thick and high I actually have to use the cricket stool to get in and out of bed. An occupational hazard for those who barely tip the tape measure at 5' 1".
I rarely, if ever, read in bed. It's not for lack of trying, simply a knack I could never master as I would invariably end up either with a sore back or, worse still, a sore chin from books falling onto my face when I nodded off.
I have conceived and then nursed a child there, welcomed lovers, soothed little ones who were ill or having nightmares, gathered grandchidren under its covers (they always tend to sleep on the diagonal for some reason, making sleep nearly impossible), and recuperated in its comfort after surgeries and long illnesses or the random winter 'flu or cold.
I have prayed or cried myself to sleep in its folds. I have rested on my side and watched films, hockey games, or my chuckle-headed Red Sox. I have dreamt there, both good dreams and bad. I have lain awake and gone through lists in my head or watched the moon creep past the window or listened for the haunting whistle of trains bound for New York or Boston.
It has been lovingly dressed with vintage bedding belonging to my ancestors, carefully pressed and laundered, and depending on the time of year, its underbelly has been a hiding place for Christmas presents, Birthday gifts, or Easter Baskets.
In short, it has been the one physical constant in my life since I was a young girl, a concrete reminder of my adolescence, young adult years, and middle-age, a touchstone hearkening back to every intimacy, every child I cared for, every dwelling I inhabited. A possession that I, and only I, have owned.