I have no particular schedule for replacing things that get worn out. The number of years something is supposed to last is of no interest to me, and as a result, everything I own hangs around for much longer than it should. Then all at once my vision clears, and I see, for instance, that my ancient bed has become a crumpled piece of sheet metal.
There is a factory-outlet bed store in a neighboring town, a place I had heard of but for a long time didn't realize I needed to visit. I found the address, parked at the front door, and walked right in. The place was deserted. Beds of all sizes and colors were lying about the large, dim warehouse.
I walked around quietly in the restful stillness, surrounded by all kinds of soft, new places to sleep. Small lights twinkled overhead like stars.
Suddenly a young saleswoman popped up from behind a counter in the far corner of the store. "Hi there!" she boomed. "Looking for a bed?"
I was so startled by her abrupt appearance and loud voice that I could hardly mumble back, "Yes, I am. My old bed is too hard. I can't sleep."
She cheerfully marched toward me. "Can't sleep?" she roared. "I sure can!" She pointed to an enormous green bed with a spongy top. "That's the bed I've got!" she thundered. "Try it out! Jump on it if you like!"
I gingerly poked at a corner of the mattress, then sat down carefully on the very edge.
Half an hour later, I found myself standing at the counter in the far corner, buying a bed. It wasn't the large green one, but a modest beige affair that was to be fitted with an extra pillow top for added softness. "It's a good bed!" the saleswoman yelled. "You'll love it!"
A couple days later, a big delivery truck pulled up the driveway, loaded to the top with beds. I opened the door and signed the papers, and when I looked up, my new bed was standing on its side in the living room, dwarfing the piano and chairs.
On the big, open floor of the warehouse, and without the huge pillow top, the bed had almost looked tiny. In my small house, it looked like an aircraft carrier.
It took me an hour to pull and shove it up the narrow staircase and around the bend into my room. I tipped it onto the frame and stood back looking at it. The bed was so tall I felt I was scrambling up sheer walls just to sit on it. Once I had heaved the white sheets on, it looked like Mt. Everest, covered with snow.
I climbed up to put my pillows on the summit. The ceiling seemed very near. I peered down to the distant valley floor, past the top of my bedside table and lamp, down to the tiny speck below that was the control for the electric blanket.
I leaned back against the pillows to rest before attempting the descent. The last time any piece of furniture had seemed too big for me was a long time ago, when I was a small child in a world designed for adults.
I remembered climbing up onto my bed, hanging onto the bedspread with little hands while my short legs scrambled up the side. It was a fine accomplishment to make it to the top, and a fitting reward to snuggle into the soft quilts, safe and sleepy on the roof of the world.
The memory of my childhood bedtime, indistinct at first, slowly became clear and immediate. I closed my eyes so I could see it better. Small nightly comforts from long ago returned to my mind: a worn copy of "The Little Brown Bear," warm Ovaltine with graham crackers, and a little yellow stuffed cat with flat green eyes.
It was pleasant to be young again for a few moments, to feel a rush of success from something as simple as climbing onto my bed. No wonder the salesgirl was so enthusiastic. She knew the value of a really good bed.
Tomorrow I'm going to try jumping on it.
(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society