I don’t have a mattress. I am sleeping on the Balinese daybed (anyone who has plunked down on it expecting to sink comfortably knows this is self-punishment – it’s stiff as a bed of nails). My king sized bed did not fit in my new apartment and I bought a sleek queen platform, thinking I would buy a mattress for it, as soon as I arrived in Grand Rapids. I laid out the comforter and decorative pillows on top expectantly; my bed looking empty as a winter coat on a hanger.
A week has gone by and although I am busy, there is no excuse for not prioritizing a mattress. Right? I mean it goes without saying that everyone needs a mattress. I think you even get one in prison.
Last night I was hell bent on making things happen. I left work and drove to the section of town with a surfeit of stores to solve the gaps in life’s necessities – World Market, Trader Joe’s and Mattress Firm (a name I love for the corniness of the play on words). I was expecting to lay on a pallet or two, make a split decision and have my purchase delivered “NEXT DAY” as giant red signs on the windows promised.
The night shift woman, working alone, never got up from her impressive desk. There were President’s Day banners everywhere and some of the mattresses were brown. Do I need to explain why this threw me? Don’t brown mattresses bleed through white sheets like some flophouse – HOT L BALTIMORE? Nothing was as it seemed: rebates and secret sale prices were yelled at me over a stack of paperwork.
I chose a mattress I was unhappy with and at checkout my only recourse said, “Will next Tuesday between 4 and 9 be okay for delivery?”
I said, “Huh? What about those signs with the exclamation points that say ‘next day delivery’?”
Obviously this was a woman who had not read the manual on “how to handle a difficult customer”. She said, “We’re real booked with the President’s Sale and all. Tuesday is a miracle. Would you rather tie it to the top of your car?”
I said, “No,” but the look on my face said so much more. I pictured myself wrestling my brown, hated mattress through the slush to the wet car top, lashing it somehow to my Audi coupe with ropes and driving the 10 miles or so back to my 3rd floor apartment where I would drag it through small church corridors to its final resting place, a soggy ruin.
When she said, “Delivery will be $79.99,” as if she were not sitting under a placard that crowed “FREE DELIVERY!” I was done.
She didn’t even try to stop me as I left in a huff. I drove past the “other” mattress store (“a family owned shopping alternative”) to Trader Joe’s, where I stood in front of the candy isle looking at bad-for-me-treats packaged to seem healthy such as “Dark Chocolate Covered Pumpkin Seeds,” and wondered why I was feeling so weird…
Kim says I am stoic, but I think she means I am not in touch with my feelings. I hold a lot in and I almost never cry. It always feels unseemly to me, even now that my sobriety has taken down the impenetrable walls I built around my emotions. I walked around Trader Joe’s with a few mismatched items until one of the guys asked if I wanted a basket and I welled up at his kindness. Standing in front of a wall of wine bottles, cradling prepackaged salads, yogurt covered raisins and a hunk of cheese…
And it hit me – I feel homesick. That’s the feeling I’m feeling. And it is natural, normal even, to feel this way when it is your first week living somewhere new and you are 911 miles from home…