It’s Valentine’s Day! So much of what is written about Valentine’s Day references “the bedroom” (my voice dropped several octaves in my head when I wrote that), which is a code word for sex (because…that’s the only place where people have sex…?), but today I actually want to talk about the actual bedroom. And, really, my bed. Which obviously is a nice place for sex, but it’s also a nice place for some other basic human needs.
My Bed, a History
When Eric and I first met, his bed was up on risers that made it ridiculously tall. Like, have-to-pole-vault-into-it tall. I had always loved a really high bed with tons of pillow…well, OK, I’d loved pictures of them in magazines; I had never actually experienced one. At first, it was kind of high-maintenance. But after a couple weeks, I got used to hoisting myself onto; I just had to build up some strength in my triceps first.
I slept in a twin bed for almost my entire life; I had a couple years of having a double bed, but I’m just not really accustomed to having a lot of space in my bed. I thought this prepared me pretty well to sleep without migrating too much. I was even more unconcerned about migrating because I also hated cuddling. (Oh, God, just typing the world makes me shudder!) There were many times when I felt trapped post-sex with a guy and wanted to pull a 127 Hours to get out of that situation, so abhorrent did I find cuddling. But with Eric, it was different. It was…mildly tolerable. But not like, I wanna be on you awesome.
Except…so often, we’d wake up and I’d be…on him. He referred to me as the human blanket for my annoying sleeping habits. I couldn’t explain it or defend myself. I didn’t remember rolling over toward the middle of the bed and getting so close to him; it just happened! It was a queen bed, so I had plenty of room, but it just kept happening. The nights I tried to keep it from happening, I slept terribly. The nights that I didn’t, Eric did.
Then we moved in together and, in the process, unintentionally flipped his mattress. Well, after two nights of awful sleep, Eric declared that he was buying a new mattress — apparently, one side was really sloped and it caused whoever slept on that side to keep rolling into the middle of the bed. I was vindicated!
He decided to buy a new mattress that weekend. He wanted to splurge and get a really nice king mattress. Suddenly he was planning to buy a whole new bedroom set and a fancy mattress to go with it. I urged him to hold off on the fancy mattress and king bed until we had a bigger space to put it. (Also, I couldn’t promise that I wouldn’t still kind of want to sleep in the middle of the bed even with all that extra room.) We ended up checking out the mattress situation at IKEA and buying the Sultan Fidjetun. Then we went to Kohl’s and bought a mattress topper for it…and I’m not exaggerating when I say that this was one of the best purchases I’ve ever made.
Seriously, that thing is amazing. It took our decent IKEA mattress and turned into the most luxurious, luscious mattress I’ve ever had. I’m 99 percent sure it was the Home Classics Green Tea Topper and I’m 100 percent sure that whichever one we bought was on sale and we had a coupon, making it a serious contender for the best $130 we’ve ever spent as a couple.
That topper really changed my attitude toward bedding. Before, it was just not a bit deal to me, mainly because I didn’t know it could be that good. (Again, I grew up in a twin bed and didn’t ever stay in fancy hotels, so I really had no way of knowing.) I don’t care about high thread count sheets (Eric and I both love jersey sheets!), but I’ve started to pay more attention to the other things — pillows, blankets — and I’m realizing that this is an area that deserves more attention than I had been giving it for my adult life. I mean, we spend a lot of time in our beds, and you guys know that I believe a good night’s sleep is the best thing you can do for your health. Getting that mattress topper made me realize that while going to bed on time is great, so too is making sure your mattress and pillows don’t suck.
Eric gave me a memory foam pillow for Valentine’s Day last year, and it was a great gift. (Seriously, I’m becoming convinced that a mattress topper and/or new pillows is the perfect gift for pretty much anyone. WHO DOESN’T NEED TO SLEEP?!) It took our already awesome bed and made it even better. Then I found these cable-knit blankets at Target that were on clearance for $8; since I like to sleep in sweaters, it was a pretty wonderful addition for me. I am not a napper or the kind of person who likes to spend a lot of time lounging in bed, but now I love reading and hanging out in bed. For me, the bed has become kind of the best thing in our house.
The fact that Eric’s bed was so tall meant that our dogs couldn’t get onto it on their own, and I really liked that. I just didn’t want them to get in the habit of sleeping with us, or even being on our bed very much. We would let them on the bed sometimes, but they needed our permission to be there.
Our dogs actually didn’t have beds of their own because they literally destroyed every bed we ever gave them. (They did this with collars for a while too; discovering that they couldn’t beat the Kong collar felt like the biggest victory in the world.) Our trainer told us to stop giving them beds, that they’d be fine in their crates without them. So, fine. They got to experience a bed from time to time, when they were behaving and/or we were feeling more susceptible to their big puppy dog eyes.
At some point, we started referring to the times we let them in bed with us as “den time,” probably because of the way Chuck would burrow under the covers and dig a spot for himself before settling in. (Indiana would spend a few minutes under the covers before he’d emerge, mouth-breathing up a storm, and plop down next to me.) But our den time became one of my favorite things. I feel so safe when I’m in bed, and it’s even better when Eric and the dogs are there too.
After we bought our new bed over the summer, we realized that its legs were not very conducive to being on risers. While I don’t mind the lower height, I don’t really like the fact that our dogs can now jump on the bed. (Though it took Chuck weeks to be able to do it.) Honestly, having them in our bed after seeing them walk around outside just kind of grosses me out. But my attempts to keep them off the bed were kind of half-assed. Their new bed access (combined with the huge-ass and incredibly cushy pillow we bought for our couch) gave them a taste for soft, fluffy things. They started seeking out the other pillows on our couch more often. And morning as I got ready for work, I discovered them on opposite sides of the bed, each one curled up on one of our pillows. It seemed like they were making the case that they could actually be trusted to have their own beds. Or maybe were just trying to crush me with their adorability.
I’ve mentioned before that despite our best efforts, our dogs are incredibly high-strung, but it really peaked last summer after we moved. Indiana started having a ton of issues, and, after a lot of stressful moments and a trip to the vet for some advice, we started really working with him to cure whatever was giving him so much anxiety. At our vet’s recommendation, we got him a smaller crate and put him on a tighter schedule when it came to all of his activities, and…it actually worked. A few weeks later, I realized that he was clearly signaling at the door that he needed to go out…and continuing to signal until I noticed him. It was a really clear moment of communication between us, and things only got better. I also began to notice him just…hanging out. He would stop running around the house like a bat out of hell after a few minutes and would just come…sit with me. And…hang out. Like, you know…dogs do. But after 18 months, I had kind of given up on the idea of having two dogs who weren’t in constant motion.
Chuck seemed to follow Indiana’s lead and our den time became more frequent. They still aren’t allowed to sleep with us, but we have den time nearly ever night now. The fact that we can now do that without them destroying something, running off, or having an accident (or, more commonly, all three) marks a major shift in our dogs. I love my dogs — I mean really, really love them — but something about this change in their behavior has helped us bond on new level. In the past six months or so, I feel like I’ve really begun to understand the idea of a dog as “man’s best friend.” Every time Chuck comes in to see me when I’m doing yoga or Indiana curls up next to me on the bed, I melt. I can see Indiana trying so hard to be a gentleman; he gives me these looks when he wants to snuggle and I just kind of die. Sometimes, I feel kind of crushed by the amount of love I have for them, and for Eric.
When I pull back the covers and get into bed, I feel like a phone being plugged into a charger. There is a connection, a sense of lightness, and a feeling of energy flowing back into me. So for me, Valentine’s Day is best celebrated in the den. It’s not only my main source of my relaxation, health, and comfort, but also just the heart of my home and, really, of me right now.