From the age of five to the age of thirty, I slept in a twin bed.
My body has somehow always been the perfect size for a twin bed. Sure, if I accidentally stretched or star-fished, my extremities would risk a nibble from the monster under the bed, but that just ensured I stayed a compact body under the blankets.
I was always efficient in a twin bed. I lay down, slept still and quiet for eight hours, and awoke refreshed and ready to battle those beasts that lurk in the daylight—the ones who whisper at water coolers, and budge in line at Starbucks.
Then I got married. And it wasn’t to Dick Van Dyke, so we ended up sharing a marriage bed.
I tried. I really did. I spent hours in Ikea, spinning in a circle and fondling every single duvet option they had, weighing and balancing features like “breathability,” “maturity of fowl feathers,” and “the personal blessing of a hot Swede named Bjornathan to ensure your ensuing babies will be hearty.”
I even agonized over the kind of pillows we should lay our weary heads to rest on. Firm? Medium? Soft as my Gramma’s mashed potatoes? Hypo-allergenic, like those ugly cats that evil villains always have in movies?
Once the marriage bed was finally outfitted, I was ready and willing to be an adult in this vast mattress expanse. (After we painstakingly removed the 56 decorative pillows, of course.)
But giving me more room in my resting spot was NOT a good idea. Just ask my husband. Ask him about the time I accidentally shoved my pillow onto his face and nearly sleep-murdered him. Ask about the way I consistently take all the covers, tuck them under my body, and then roll twice, securing all the warmth and coziness for myself. Ask him how much he loves when I stumble back in from my nightly bladder party and clumsily kick his tender insoles. Ask him about my tantalizing combination of sleep mask, Wrecking Ball tank top, and bright orange, construction site-worthy earplugs.
Ask why he’s still married to me—the violent, sweaty Sleep Bandit—and you might just hear the sound of silence. I am like a child soldier, conditioned to certain circumstances, then when given an inch of freedom, unable to stop myself from going buck wild.
I’m not just a troubling partner when I’m asleep. I’m a troubling partner when falling asleep—that magical time where you feel like you’re stepping off a cliff onto a cloud made of pink cotton candy. A time when I absolutely need to be left alone. No snuggling. No spooning. No touching of any limb of mine at all. Because I will for certain pretend I am comfortable, lie there frozen until my husband is asleep, and then scurry to my cool side of the bed, free at last.
I feel terrible about this. Movies and television show us that happy and successful couples sleep like intertwined octopuses, faces mashed into chests, genitals jammed together, sleep breath hovering like a low fog over a beautiful, sleeping sculpture of love and togetherness.
I can’t. I cannot.
Let us do what we are meant to do in the marriage bed—collapse sweaty and sated, and then retire to separate sides of the bed. Let there be some kind of laser-like separator built into the bed frame, so if a stray limb happens to wander in the night, it is given a gentle zap so as to remind its owner STAY ON YOUR SIDE, PAL.
Or maybe I’ll develop a bed that slowly scissors into bunk beds, one portion slightly elevated above the other. My husband and I can still quietly chat and laugh and share the news of our days . . . and then hit the lever. That way we can both sleep peacefully, knowing neither one of us will be accidentally smothered in our sleep, or interrupted from a dream in which we win the lottery and buy side-by-side King-sized beds.