Every couple has their bed time rituals. Some insist on having some type of sex every single night. Others need to actively cuddle for a few minutes before wrapping themselves up in their little couple cocoon. A lot of couples end up falling asleep watching TV, first one drifts off, then the other. And then there are the couples who often end up sleeping on the floor. Those people are drunks.
I don’t understand cuddlers. How do they fall asleep with someone else’s skin in the way? I understand how important love is, but I prefer breathing. That’s why my husband and I are what some might call not cuddly. We tend to keep to ourselves in preparation for a long night of sleep. Our pre-sleep routine is more about “the spreading of the pillows” then spooning. “The spreading of the pillows” ritual began when we fled our New York City apartment during Covid and had to incorporate all of our apartment bedding into our beach house bedding, which left us with eleven pillows on our bed. One might think that’s excessive, but I actually know and love all eleven of my pillows. They all serve a purpose, each according to their weight and density, in the construction of the retaining wall I like to build between us. The purpose of the wall is two-fold. It provides protection from the outside world and it ensures that all pillows are easily accessible in case I change my mind about my original pillow choice in the middle of the night. There are two pillows in particular, both named Flatsy, that I love like family. Dan mostly throws his across the room out of frustration that we have so many. I then get out of bed, collect them, and add them to my pile.
Once I’ve spread the pillows, we kind of ease our way over to our own sides of the bed. Actually it’s more like we escape to our respective night tables and cling to them as though we’re both afraid of being eaten by the alligator on the other side. So far apart are we in our quest for uninterrupted sleep that if one of our children happen to call while we’re getting ready for bed, and they want to speak to both of us, we have to go looking for the other person as though we’re trapped in a forest.
“Hold on, I know he’s here,” I’ll say.
“Wait. Where are you two?” they’ll ask.
“In bed. Why?”
In the morning, whoever gets up first reaches for the other one’s hand like they need to be rescued from a pit of quick sand, grateful the other one is still there, and even more grateful neither of us had to suffocate for love.