There are some rites of passage/stages in a relationship that most of us only expect to experience within a certain time frame. One is learning to share a bed with another human being.
I am not talking about a bed partner for straightforward bonking (sorry, erotica guys). In fact, the bonking part is straightforward, compared to sleeping. Yes, in my advanced years (compared to you 20-somethings), I have experienced bed-sharing with several attachments over the years, not to mention having to sleep with my mum and daughter at some point or other.
But when you get to my age, the whole sleeping next to a new person thing is a massive challenge.
Will he snore? Will he talk or shout in his sleep? Will he lash out, or swing his limbs across the bed in the early hours of the morning? Perhaps he will sleep walk, re-enacting scenes from ‘The Godfather’ (pick a number). One my ‘bed partners’ in recent years snored to such a degree that, on one particular sleepless night, I counted four different types of snores, even naming them in my head – there was the ‘loud hog’, the ‘tractor engine’, the ‘irritating mosquito’ and the ‘stop-start motorbike’. So, I am no stranger to the flipside of not sleeping alone.
Even if you do find he is afflicted with none of the above, it dawns on you that you can no longer sleep with a teddy, pile of books or yesterday’s clothes strewn on the bed. If you are like me, you have probably become set in your ways, after a few years of mostly sleeping alone – tissues under your pillow; your favourite pair of fluffy socks and comfy jim-jams; a pile of books and magazines on the floor; a secret supply of buzzing ‘thrill seeker’ devices secreted away in your bottom drawer; a torch to hand and a sturdy hockey stick in the corner for lamping intruders (or is that just me?). In short, it’s a single woman’s bedroom survival kit.
And, if your collection of objects does not faze him, you can’t quite believe what is happening. This week, the new man is ‘living’ with me for six entire days while my children are on holiday with my ex and his girlfriend. I am finding it all very strange, actually accepting that someone wants to prolong the time they spend in my company, never mind in my bed.
I am still waking up at 4am and checking he’s really there, thinking to myself: “Look, a man is in my bed – a real person, not an inflatable one!” I peer over him, watching him breathing in and out, amazed he chose to be here, amongst all my crap and dust, rather than in his clean and tidy room. He is warm, very warm – in fact, my comfy jim-jams are not welcome here, now I have a man-sized heating system in my bed. The socks have disappeared too, in fact all my clothes, seeing as we had our fun before the light was switched off. He is also very long and his legs go diagonal from his side to the bottom corner of my side. He has already complained that my bed is too short, but it’s not the right time to go bed shopping, just yet.
I watch him for another few minutes in the half-light, looking so peaceful, with me, next to me. (Thank God he isn’t a snorer.) Then he twitches, groans and rolls onto his side. I carefully kiss his forehead, lie down and drift off to sleep.
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