A Separate Piece

Separate piece

My sister and I never slept together happily.  We shared a bed and then a just a room for a very short time.  Soon after my parents bought their first house, they decided to give themselves a little peace and quiet by separating us into different rooms.

Twelve-year-old Thing1 and six-year-old Thing2 still share a room.  Their bunk bed gives one an aerie and the other a cave, so they each have some private space.  We know, however, that Thing1 needs his own space.  Thing2 idolizes his older brother and was at first reluctant, but, lately, seemed to have embraced the idea.  This last weekend, his subconscious told me a different story.

We had gone to Cape Cod for a reunion with 22 of my mom’s closest relatives.  My cousin and his wife had taken charge of feeding and entertaining the swarm, but the visiting nuclear family units were sleeping at a nearby B&B.

The Big Guy and I, for once finding ourselves in a motel room with a bed large enough to hold both of us – he’s 6’6′ and I’m no model – decided to do something radical and sleep together.  This put Thing1 and Thing2 in the other bed together, carrying on a loud, argument-filled tradition in our family.

Our boys have never slept in the same bed.  At first, I worried that this weekend my parents would be enjoying a little revenge for all the vacations memories my sister and I had scarred with our squabbles over who had a bigger slice of the bed and who really needed all the blankets.  By the time we returned from dinner at my cousin’s house, however, they barely had enough energy to get out of their clothes – let alone fight – before passing out.

The Big Guy and I were almost as tired as they were, but, unused to the light from the suburbs (night in the country is pitch dark), I woke often during the night.  When I woke, I walked, and each time I was treated to a new snapshot of a unique ballet.  In every image, Thing1 had migrated farther towards the edge of the bed.  And, each time, his little brother had followed, wrapping an arm around Thing1 or wedging his head into his brother’s back.

Thing1 didn’t get quality sleep, but I think he’s learning – however painfully – what my sister and I only truly appreciated after we moved out of my parents’ house.  Watching Thing2 sleepily stalk his older brother, I realized that, with the determination of a deer tick on a toddler, he was impressing on Thing2 the unconscious understanding that no matter where he goes in his life, he’ll never truly be alone.  At least that’s what I hoped was happening.