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What side of the bed do you sleep on?

When you’re young and you have a twin bed, this is not really an issue – there’s only one side of a twin bed.  If you have tried to share a twin bed with someone, you will probably have discovered that, if you are the one sleeping next to a wall, when you roll over you CAN break your nose on said wall.  Trust me on this.

At some age, perhaps early teens, many of us graduate to a double bed. 

And if you try to go back to sleeping in a twin bed for any length of time after you move to a double bed, you run a very high risk of falling out of bed.  Trust me on this one too.  And believe me when I tell you that hitting the floor as a dead weight in the middle of the night is a distrubing way to wake up.

It seems, and maybe it’s just my perception, that the size of every bed has changed over the last 48 years.  Kelsea’s twin bed seems much larger to me than my twin bed growing up, or the twin beds in the room we share at the beach for that matter.  Double beds seem smaller – queen beds seem more like what I remember double beds to be.  And king-size beds seem huge, with the California King being huger than huge.  I’ve always wondered why they named it California King.  If it’s a description of size, then shouldn’t it have been named Texas King?

During my entire married life, I slept on my husband’s right.  I don’t know why.  He was left-handed, but I don’t think that had anything to do with it.  On the rare occasions when we tried to change sides, it just felt so wrong.  And now that I am single, the idea of sleeping on anyone else’s right side feels wrong.  I imagine I would wake up in a confused fog, thinking that Pat was the person next to me, and that’s really not an episode any courtship needs.  But I could deal with sleeping on someone else’s left side.

When Kelsea and I took road trips last year, we sometimes had to share a bed, and it didn’t matter what side I was on.  Thinking back, it was her right side in Tucumcari and Cheyenne, her left side in Cimarron and Durham.  Apparently, when it’s not a romantic partner, it makes no difference, although with her, I tend to take the side closest to the door, in order to protect her from intruders (which really makes no sense at all).

In my own massive bed, I sleep on the left side (as viewed from my position lying on my back in the bed).  The right side is a dark territory into which I rarely venture, like the wilds of the Amazon, as yet fully unexplored.  Every so often, I’ll wake up lying sideways or diagonally across the bed, but I never start out of the right side, and I never wake up there.  I’m sure part of the reason is because the light switch is on the left side, but I know that’s not all of it. 

It’s truly a psychological thing.  When I moved out, I wanted to change everything.  Since I took almost nothing from the family home, since Kelsea (and of course, Pat) were still living there, I bought furniture.  (Thank heavens I was working at the time.)  Everything was new to me, which fit well with the idea of leaving my old life behind and making a fresh start.  So I deliberately chose to sleep on the opposite side of the bed from that which I’d slept on for the past 24 years. 

And now, here I am, on the other side of the bed.  I dislike the fact that the side to my right is empty, but I hope that will change in time.  It certainly leaves a lot of room for exploration in the future.

I’ve been living alone (with the exception of having Kelsea part-time) for almost 20 months now – wow.  Over a year and a half.  It certainly doesn’t feel like it – it feels like much less time.  I lived “alone” off and on before I met Pat, but that was a loooong time ago. He and I moved in together when I was barely 22. That was before I knew as much about myself as I now do.  And so, over the last few days, I’ve been doing some self-reflecting, and realize that I have learned a few new things:

I need to live with a dishwasher.  Yes, a fully automatic, quiet-whooshing, dish-cleaning godlike machine.  I suck at doing dishes, plain and simple.  I don’t have the patience.  I’ve tried the whole zen thing, of doing nothing but washing the dish, but it doesn’t work for me.  I have a tendency to adopt the Berea College Dining Hall motto from my Mother’s time there:  “If you don’t scrape it off, wash it off.  If you don’t wash it off, dry it off.  If you don’t dry it off, eat it off at the next meal.”  Bad, bad, bad dog.

I don’t like dust, dirt and pet hair.  It’s true I don’t like cleaning, but I like having the house clean.  It’s a small house, and not hard to clean, but I still don’t do it often enough – really, just when I have company coming over.  And it’s easier for me to bring myself to clean when I am not trying to convince someone else to clean with me – or find myself cleaning when someone else is just sitting around.

I have too many clothes.  I never considered myself a clothes horse, compared to most women, but with very limited dresser space (and NO closet space), I am coming to realize that I have too many clothes; the good thing is that I’m also finding that it’s easier to get rid of things these days.  And I find that liberating.

I get lonely.  This is new for me.  I always used to greedily relish my time alone.  Now that I have more of it, and I don’t have to be so desperate about it, I sometimes, especially late at night, get lonesome – and a little scared.

Having a TV is not the best thing for me.  When I’m home alone, it’s usually on, mostly for the faux company.  That habit keeps me from achieving a certain peace that I feel is at hand.

I don’t like cooking for one person.  I do like cooking for someone else.

I am capable of discipline.  I’ve always known this, but these days, with no day job to go to, I have to enforce discipline on myself. I didn’t say I was good at it yet, but it’s nice to realize that I’m capable of it without a set schedule.

I actually like living with the right people.

I love bright colors in my house.

I don’t really like going to bed early.

I like coming home to a quiet house.

(Even though I don’t love pet hair) I like living with animals – I miss that. It’s good to have a visiting pug.

I enjoy the sense of freedom and calm that living alone brings – kind of a secret smile, a subtle happiness.

I like sitting on the floor.

I am coming to love myself more and more.

I’m not talking about architecture and domination. 

I’m talking about order and good habits. 

I’ve always viewed myself as being both unstructured and undisciplined.  Kind of a free-flowing ‘gal’.  (Ugh, I hate that word ‘gal’.)  On my way to work this morning, I decided I needed to do a little self-examination to see if this is indeed true – am I more like a flapping flamingo than a steady eagle? 

Let’s take a peek…

I am a confirmed pig.  Of course, I mean pig in the nicest possible way.  I’ve always been quite fond of pigs, and have, in fact, been experiencing a mild yearning for a teacup piglet. 

But back to the point.  I’ve never been what you could call ‘tidy’.  Our house growing up was tidy enough, but cluttered, as my Dad was a saver – one of those people who kept almost everything, because you never knew when it would come in handy.  He stopped short of being a hoarder, but not by much.  I think that was a common characteristic of depression-era children.  I inherited the trait.  E-Bro, on the other hand, inherited my Mom’s less-is-more attitude.  (This woman gave away her wedding dress, for gods sake.)  The clutter in our childhood home made him nuts.  MY room was always a disaster area. 

My Mom eventually stopped hounding me about it, and just kept my door closed.  I’ll admit to some slight embarrassment when our house was burglarized when we were on vacation one year, and it was difficult to tell that they had ransacked my room. 

During college, I lived one summer with a friend who defined himself as a “surface dweller”.  Everything he needed was on the surface, not hidden away in a drawer somewhere.  I was wonderfully comfortable with this approach. 

Once I moved out on my own, things didn’t change.  My little studios would just morph from clean to ground zero over the course of a month.  One day, about once a month, I would walk in my door and see that it was a disaster.  Then I would clean it up.  And become oblivious again, until the next time.

Pat was never the neatest guy, but he had a lot of anal-retentive in him, and so my slob-esque qualities were a source of constant friction between us.

I just have a “what’s next” attitude towards being tidy, which translates to ‘drop the towel and it is gone from my consciousness.’   I don’t like this attitude.  I’ve resolved to change it many times.  I always feel better when my house is clean and tidy and I have less stuff.  But somehow, my resolutions never stick.  Why?  WHY??

Since moving out of Pat’s house, I am definitely better at getting rid of things, but still I can feel the clutter starting to rebuild.  I am NOT powerless to change it.  But somehow it’s not at the forefront of my consciousness.  Mr. GF expressed an attitude the other day that I yearned for.  He said he liked taking care of his things.  That’s exactly what I fuss at Kelsea about, as she seems to display my attitude of  ‘a dropped towel immediately passes into another dimension,’ although fortunately, not my attitude towards saving things. 

I want her to take care of her things.  So why don’t I take care of my own?  Setting that example is the best way to get her to follow it.  And I WANT to be like that.  There’s a sense of peace that comes from lack of clutter and from order, and a positive sense of caretaking that comes from taking care of your things.  As if the things themselves appreciate it.

A larger issue is that this undisciplined attitude spills over into taking care of myself.  I don’t get enough sleep.  I don’t eat right.  I set good exercise goals, but then let them go.  And that’s not what I want to do.  I want my 27-year old body back!  Perhaps that’s unrealistic, but hey, I’m not asking for my 21-year old body back, and I’d settle for my 30-year old body.  But it’s not going to happen by thinking real hard, now is it? 

I feel decidedly better when I take care of myself.  There have been lots of excuses for slacking off – depression, losses, the divorce, the lumps, too much work.   There’s ALWAYS some excuse.  Which means that there should be NO excuse – other than projectile vomiting, because no one really wants that in the weight room.  What is it in me that keeps me from pursuing what I want?  Is it inherent laziness?  I’ve always worked, and have never considered myself to be lazy, but perhaps I am wrong.  Is it fear of success?  Meh.  Don’t think so.  Is it the need for immediate gratification?  Possibly – I may have been turned towards that attitude by our society’s constant emphasis on immediacy.

Having a partner in these kind of things helps.  I have always done better with a workout partner.  I always wanted Pat to help me with housecleaning (didn’t happen).  And now that I am on my own, it gets harder to do it all alone with each passing year.  Kathy and I have talked about walking together when she gets back after the first of the year.  But here’s the problem with that…

I just found out that my job officially ends on February 28th.  Lack of time will no longer be an excuse.  It will be time to stretch my flamingo wings, to see if I can grow pinker and stronger and more orderly, in order to make my life move forward, in order to not just stand in a marsh on one leg, head tucked beneath my wing.

It will be nothing if not interesting.

August 2019
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