Like many adults, I don’t rest easy these days. With a tendency toward insomnia, it can take me a long time to drift off, especially now that my mind is busy thinking all things pandemic.
Tonight I was awakened by a smother of extra blankets, an extra couple of pillows, and a heating pad that were all piled on the side of the bed. And it reminded me of how, as a kid, I used to bring everything precious to bed with me.
I’m not talking teddy bears and dolls and other huggable things. I’m talking important things. My box of polished agates from Lake Superior. My packet of bird cards that I chose from the drawer of treasures at the dentist. My case of trinkets.
The trinkets were most valued because they were the most difficult to come by. My sister Therese and I would take our milk money — a penny for white milk, two pennies for chocolate milk — and save it for the gumball machine at the gas station that was situated on our walk home from school. It was an illicit stop — mom didn’t approve of gas stations — and that was not how we were supposed to spend our milk money. But that’s how we got a hot dog in a bun, a fried egg, and a hamburger in a bun with little rings at the top so they could be strung on a chain. Or in my case, be toted around in a box.
It just so happened that everything I held most dear was lumpy and bumpy and I liked to drag it all with me everywhere — even to bed. I clutched that stuff so close that Dad finally took one of those square black and gold film boxes he got from working at the drug store and he punched holes and ran a rope through the top and bottom so I could store everything in there and tote it along with me.
That was even more awkward to take to bed, but I did because that was the coolest treasure of all. I’ve loved containers ever since.
But I don’t love the pandemic. I go to sleep thinking about it, I wake up thinking about it, and I’m pretty sure I dream about it.
Tonight, as I woke up thinking of the pandemic, I shoved at the soft mass of extra blankets and pillows and was reminded of all the things that comforted me most in my childhood bedtimes.
What I wouldn’t give now for a black-and-gold box on a rope full of trinkets. Thanks, Dad. Now that I’ve thought of all that, maybe I won’t dream about pandemics.