Like most good stories, this one begins before there was a bed, when there was only a room. I bought the new (old) house with plans to finish the basement. It had 3 bedrooms, so naturally that meant 1 bedroom for me, another for my office, and the last to shelter the 3 brothers, ranging in ages then from 8-21. We were all happy about the new house, so they had a great attitude. But the littlest one longed and dreamed for the day the room would become his own.
There were many, many dreams. Dreams of painting it purple, hiring artists to paint baseball players, and very specific dreams of a trundle bed, a bed within a bed, that pulls out like a secret compartment.
In the end, the brothers moved downstairs, and we painted the room Red Sox colors and my industrious boyfriend, Kyle, who I knew was talented enough to play the role of artist figured out something even better: he ordered an impressive kit of adhesive images of Nico’s favorite player Mookie Bets. It was almost perfect, except it was September and there was still no bed. I wasn’t ready to confess, but I’d spent the money on a training (actually 10x the cost of bed) and things were feeling, well, a little tight. But I promised Nico that I would buy it for his birthday. That gave me nearly 2 whole months.
When I finally made it to IKEA, it was a week past his birthday, which landed on Thanksgiving. I traversed the trappings of the giant store and hauled the boxes onto the cart by myself. Later, with the help of strangers I’d get the enormous packages into my car, drive home before my car battery died in the driveway, and haul them up the 2 flights of stairs with the help of Chaz, the oldest. I scheduled the party for a week later and relaxed believing that was surely enough time.
The next night Dezi, the easy going middle child, chivalrously built the bed, a whole 2 hours of his life, but saved the trundle for the next night, which between work and homework, turned out to be two. “But I need the bed for my party!” said Nico. I reassured him the brothers would finish but when they finally (re) descended on the project they discovered missing hardware. We searched. We wondered. Nico cried. It wasn’t a bed without the trundle. I asked Kyle what to do, and he coached me from Salem, through text messages and beers with the guys, but ultimately leveled that I probably wouldn’t win. The party was in 24 hours.
The next morning I got the call that Kyle was headed out to help an anonymous friend. “We like to throw the football in the living room,” he hinted. “Plus, I speak IKEA.”
Kyle arrived with all the IKEA parts he’d saved for years, and I emptied the dumpster of recycling as the wind threatened to blow away the cardboard. I thought we finally had our breakthrough when I discovered an abandoned bag of pieces in the linen closet. It was a forensic operation. But in the end, it wasn’t enough of the right parts, so Kyle hopped in his car and drove out to IKEA to buy another trundle, returning with 1 hour before the 50 minute drive back to Salem to pick up his son from school.
Kyle worked like a transplant surgeon, opening the box just enough and extracting the hardware. I handed him an electrolyte infused bottled water as he stood in Nico’s bedroom preparing for the operation, and he smiled at me and said, “Now go away.”
He worked and worked, but stopped suddenly to call to me downstairs. “Ms Vic, is it possible you did not buy the slats for the trundle bed?” Oh God. It was no use being angry—the party was in 4 hours. And we’d made it this far. I committed to going back in afternoon traffic. Plus, we’d need Chaz to finish the drawers because it was almost pick up time in Salem.
And so I picked up Nico early from school, and we drove to IKEA—45 minutes each way—and purchased the slats. While away, Chaz worked and built the drawers. Within 10 minutes of walking in the door, the bed was assembled. And just like that, a year’s worth of dreaming seemed to come true.
But I was wrong about that.
It wasn’t until later that night, when I saw the sleepover configurations, that the dream itself moved from black and white to vivid color. Because you see, I’d forgotten what it’s like to think like a kid, to feel like all’s lost like a kid, to dream like a kid. But when I saw Nico sandwiched against the base of the bed, with 2 friends crammed beside him in the trundle, while the twin bed remained empty, I remembered.
It was never the bed—it was always the novelty, the accessory. It was bed-as-transformer that created the magic. A magic so alluring that 3 boys were all willing to forgo a good night’s sleep, just to have a piece of that vision.
Just to sleep inside a dream.