"There's plenty of room for both of us."
I looked at Amy suspiciously, then looked at what we have been considering for the past two minutes- my twin bed mattress. I say mattress because it didn't exactly seem like a bed- even though I had requested the loft set up and all, I curse the height of the sucker every night as I shun the use of the side ladder and rely only on my spring- like calves to propel me upward. I curse it sometimes in the morning, too, when I overestimate its height- something akin to Mt. Everest when you become convinced that you're back in your old, pre-college bed- and topple from the shock. Sometimes I won't even get up on time because I know the view my room-mate might have from her substantially lower bed of me either sliding, slug-like and inevitably exposing my underwear, down from my sleep matt on my back like something slippery or hiking the long way down via ladder- again, with my butt in her direction, inevitably exposing my underwear- pity the room-mate of the loft-bed user who weareth no said undergarments- no, I had no wish to expose someone I lived with but barely knew to this side of me. No. This bed was not a bed, it was a challenge from day one.
"For both of us? Are you serious? Sometimes I feel like there's barely room for me." I am doubtful of my friend's typically optimistic plan. She has come to be with me for two wonderful days in order to distract the both of us from our mediocre mean reds, our college-age slump, our mid-semester crisis (before one of us just broke down and got a cartilage piercing or ran off with Ally Mcbeal or something ala Harrison Ford). The day's been great and all, but as I study our evening possibilities I'm beginning to question my own sanity regarding my invitation for her to stay overnight. The polka dots on my green comforter seem to warn me, crying out their visual spotted caution. I suddenly realize I hate polka dots. And I'm not that fond of bright green, either. Why did I think this comforter was a good idea? "What do you think? I've shared mattresses with two sisters at a time before, for crying out loud. I think we'd survive." My friend is already pulling the pillows from the bed and piling the ones she deems unnecessary on the floor. "Alright," I say, warily. I turn to look at my room-mate's bed, wistfully. Its cheetah-print loveliness is so taunting- at the moment she's gone to a soccer game but I expect her back any minute. I wonder to myself how she'll react seeing a bigger lump than usual in my bed. I extinguish a laugh. If she jumped to conclusions she'd probably talk to me less than she already does, which would limit our conversations to zip. I laugh myself into the bathroom that we share with two other suitemates and start brushing my teeth while Amy talks over my running faucet.
When I come back into our now-shared space I see her happily nestled and scrunched like a woodland animal in my bed. Her look of contentment as she pulls the comforter up to her nose fills me with adoration and I want to squeeze the life out of her for thinking our friendship might survive even this, but instead I turn on the closet timer light, and out of politeness to my guest I climb up the ladder rather than attempt my usual running hop. She has been sacrificial herself, by claiming the edge of the bed so that I might have some security, my face braced against the wall rather than the air. I struggle for a comfortable spot for all of two seconds, then finally flop on my back. We're respectfully quiet for a few moments until Amy asks,"Do you usually sleep on your back?" "No… well sort of, I mean, I usually end up that way, though, so I'm really just being economical." Amy makes a muffled sound like a gurgle from under the comforter, and strains one eye to glare at me. "You can sleep on your side! Just don't, you know, spoon me." I decide not to sleep on my side.
It's 1AM by this point, and we've dedicated ourselves to waking up at 5:30 in order to get Amy out of here in time for church in the morning. This means no talking, no girly chitchat. This is serious: sleeping is imperative. Alas, I've never been good under pressure. I lie perfectly still, listening to the fan and Amy's breathing. I can't help but admire her willpower. She seems to tackle even sleeping to the best of her ability. I resolve to move as little as possible in order to give her a decent night's sleep, not allowing myself many options. I flop my head to the side in order to convince the rest of my body that I am comfortable. No dice. I notice that Amy's breathing has already become deep and steady, and I panic, momentarily, as I would when I was little- the idea of folk leaving me behind, even in sleep, could be completely horrifying. Oh, I'll never be able to sleep now.
Well, actually, looks like it's 2AM now and I am wavering, finally. Unfortunately, though I have tried not to move at all over the past hour I have somehow ended up on top of my arm, which is having a better time at falling asleep than I am. Awesome.
Okay, it's about 3AM and the sleeping arm might as well not exist. And I really need to turn over. All I can think about is that drummer guy from Metallica who slept on his arm funny one night and woke up with irreparable damage and could never play again. Yes. I must turn over. I ponder the logistics of this move- surely I will have to prop myself up on one elbow and use my left hand to physically move my opposite arm out from under me- then turn over. I run the plan over and over in my head until I feel frenzied and totally unnerved by the prospect of making any sudden movements. I monitor Amy's breathing, then spur-of-the-moment I opt to go in. Up on the elbow, out with the arm, a quick, agile motion and I'm on my stomach. I freeze as Amy's shape reacts slightly, then resumes its stillness. I turn my face back to meet the wall and realize I'm perspiring.
Come 4AM I, between fading in and out of a hallucinatory dream about Bob Dylan's cats, realize I have to go to the bathroom. Badly.
4:30 rolls around and so does Amy. As she does the slits in my eyes widen and I look up to see which way she's going. The openings in her eyes are cracked as well. For one horrible, sleep-defying moment we lock eyes in our sleep-seeking state. The moment is so incorrect, so surreal that we both hiss and burble somewhat akin to sputtering kettles, then quickly bury our heads in denial.
Everything is quiet for awhile. My discomfort, nearing now the realms of unbelievability, is worsened by my fear that Amy is probably as horribly sleepless as I am, and yet still scrunching as small as she can so that I can have some god forsaken space. I wonder, almost but thank god not aloud, if we are simply so uncomfortable in these hours because we are so used to our own space by now. We've grown so far beyond the days when we'd have to share beds with parents or overactive siblings, so far beyond days of freedom from self-conciousness. Really, we've become the physical size of a personal monster that demands a whole bed to itself. Amazing. As I lie here with my dry eyes just barely making out the textures of the wall beside me, I realize I haven't shared anything as meaningful as my personal space in a long time.
As I feel myself flickering, I wish she were here all the time. I wish they all were, unkosher as it sounds, I wish they were all stuffed into my twin comforter like sardines. I wish I was beyond having to meet new possibilities, new enemies, new faces. The falseness and emptiness of idle conversation with pretty strangers is becoming too much to bear, the guessing game of who is worth getting to know is too gruesome. My capacity for this falseness is diminishing with each passing day, and I simply feel as though I can't pretend any longer. My sigh reverberates in the darkness.
Before I know it, there's an explosion of noise, and I realize I've been sleeping for the past hour. All I can hear now is a rage against my ears- a fire alarm, a monster truck, the last dinosaur on a rampage through my dorm. It's our cellphones, both set to wake us up at 5:30. The noise is like an intruder. I look up to see Amy holding two bright objects, her eyes puckered like a newborn squirrel. A terrified newborn squirrel. The bells, the bells… "Stop the madnress!" I think she's saying, and I grab one of the cellphones and claw at all of the buttons in an effort to cease the insanity. It's as though the dorm floor fire drill is commencing, as it has before around this time, and the fear of suddenly disturbing my travel-weary room-mate has lept to my mind. At last the racket ceases and our nerves slack; we giggle exhaustedly. "Well," she says, "That was fun."
As Amy comes to, she still manages to sound far away, and I wonder if she's not quite awake yet. I sit up and lean my back against the wall; the jolt from the wake-up noise has made me completely wide-eyed. "Sleep well?" I ask, perkily. She moves her jaw very slowly, to and fro, and then answers me. "Oh fine and dandy… aside from awful. I'm all sweaty." I don't see any sweat, except on my own pillow, so I just nod. She turns to growl quietly at my oscillating fan. "It's the fannnn.." she mutters, sounding like Gollum's distant relation. I defend the fan by declaring my love for it and it's glorious white noise that probably protected what little sleep we did achieve. "I… I love it as well," Amy continues in low, dreamy tones. "But… it's so…moist." The two of us pause, trying to process what just escaped from the ward of Amy's mouth. "I mean the air. It's moist. And the fan is just… blowing it around." We erupt into stifling laughter, Amy burying her head into her pillow and me letting open the floodgates, giving freedom to a few pathetic hysteria-induced tears. It takes a good ten minutes for us to regain composure.
"I've gotta get back to the real world, man," I hear Amy say, groggily, as she slowly swings her legs over the side of the bed and slides overboard. HER underwear doesn't show, I grouchily note. She wipes the sleep from her eyes and peers up at me, a million miles high. She cocks her head to one side. "Howya doin?" She asks, in all seriousness. I think before answering. "Okay, I guess. I'll recover eventually." We smile at each other until I notice something out of the corner of my eye. "What?" she whispers, her voice dropping low in reaction to my falling face.
Eventually she follows my stare to the EMPTY BED.
Apparently my room-mate didn't bother to tell me she would not be returning from San Diego for the duration of the weekend. Her comfy, clean, low, available bed very nearly emits a mocking glow from where it sits. The two of us look at each other, bitterly, cursing our lives, until a bright flash of sunlight appears from under my blinds. With a sigh of acceptance, I open the window coverings. As the blinds turn to their sides with a great deal of resistance I see in them our own lashes, and here the morning comes bounding in. Taken aback, the two of us squint, our bedheads frizzled, our poor, dried-out eyes unprepared for the light.