Monday, August 24, 2009

History through Mattresses

In 2001, during my final year of undergrad, I bought a mattress off a guy for $75. I had to pay him in installments: $40 upfront and another $35 a couple of months later when he called to remind me that I still owed him money.

Eight years later, my financial situation has improved, but I'm still sleeping on that very same mattress. It graduated from college; traveled with me across the desert to Los Angeles; supported the backs of several boyfriends and the occasional overnight guest; kept me afloat through grad school, and gave me a place to collapse following every grueling derby practice for the past five years. I never questioned its devotion or integrity or really thought much about it all. A mattress was just another place to put my bones.

My chiropractor, however, disagrees. He prescribed an upgrade.

"You'd be better off sleeping on a pile of blankets on the floor," Dr. Michael said as he affixed pads to my upper back and arms. The pads were connected to his electrode therapy machine. "In fact, I'd advise you to do that until you buy a better mattress." And with the flip of a switch, my back spasmed and my left hand involuntarily reshaped itself into a claw.

Now that Dr. Michael mentions it, I suppose I don't wake up throughout the night with my hands clenched into numb talons when I sleep on JD's million dollar mattress. Hmmm.


I was eight when my mom left my brother's father the first time. In a 26-foot U-Haul, Mom at the helm, we moved from Long Island to Arizona without his knowledge. Bundled into a car seat at my mother's side was my infant brother -- precious, smuggled cargo; to the back of the truck, our green Honda was hitched. This was a multi-vehicle pilgrimage, a fleet of nurses relocating to Phoenix in search of a better life, more affordable housing and a booming geriatric population for which to care. Eileen's blue car was out front, our pacesetter, and Loretta's red Hyundai trailed the U-Haul. It was here that I held shotgun, beside Loretta, my mother's best friend. She owned one cassette tape -- the Dirty Dancing soundtrack -- which became our soundtrack as we moved from ocean to desert.

She's like the wind.

My mom bought her first house in Peoria, AZ (a townhouse, technically). My brother's father -- the man who would become my stepdad -- tracked us down and moved in.

My mom bought me a new bedroom set for my new room. She let me pick out all of the pieces, which I think was sort of a consolation prize for the baby-daddy situation. I chose a daybed, and I slept on the mattress that came with it from the time I was nine until I graduated from high school. Sometime around junior year, the springs started to poke through the mattress's decorative Kokopelli fabric, but rather than ask for a new one, I just started layering blankets on top of it. By then, my mother had divorced my stepfather and he was dead, and I'm certain she would have bought me a new mattress had I complained, but the sad truth is that the thought never even crossed my mind.

Apparently, all it took was a doctor's orders. Last week, I finally laid down the cash for a new, quality mattress, all the while thinking of other things on which I'd rather spend my money. New glasses. A new chair for my living room. A new dinette set. But a good night's sleep...that's priceless right? TBD as I dream about the impending delivery of my first grown-up mattress.


mackdadd said...

Someone I worked with once told me "You spend 16 hrs a day on your feet, and the other 8 hrs sleeping - if you spend money on anything, spend it on comfortable shoes and a good mattress".

And then, of course, there's those internet rumors about half the weight of mattress 10 yrs old being dead dust mites. That's just a rumor though. :)

parentheticalthoughts said...

A high quality king size bed was my first grown-up, post-college purchase, and it has been 100% worth it. It's amazing what we put up with. I slept on the same bed from when I was four til I was eighteen. I also had springs poking through and didn't think to ask for a new mattress.

adriana said...

I'm in desperate need of a new bed, too. I've got the spinal crunchies.

Cagey said...

My bed is the same twin mattress I've had since I was, oh...10. I stopped sleeping on it two and a half years ago because my couch is more comfortable. Needless to say, sleepover guests are very rare.