Are you still sleeping on a pile of books? he asked.
He being my brother’s childhood best friend who spent enough nights at our house to know my sleeping rituals.
I laughed only because so little has changed. I still sleep with books. My arms bumping into them beneath my pillow, the sharp edges of hardbacks poking me in the side as I struggle to sleep, no less than three books resting with cracked spines in the unslept-in, though far from empty, spot beside me. Two mountains of books threaten to topple
I am promiscuous in my reading pursuits; at this exact moment, Someone Knows My Name by Lawrence Hill, Double Death by Georgette Heyer, Mentor for Life by my friend Natasha Sistrunk Robinson, and a book in Spanish (El Tiempo entre Las Costuras by Maria Duenas) on my Kindle all sleep with me. If I’m not careful, my 4th Kindle will end up in that tangle of books on the spare side of my bed and share the same fate as the previous iterations –a knee to the screen as I climb into bed for the night.
My nocturnal habits are routine. I watch an episode (or three) of a telenovela and I climb into bed with the idea of reading until I am sleepy. And then I finish a book and begin another. Or, I stay up all night reading. I used to do this all-night-binge reading by night light when I was younger, but adulting means paying for one’s own electricity and staying up as late as one wants. Even if I am tired the next day, it also seems a price well-worth paying.
I was having a bad day once and I must have been taking it out on the guy that I was dating because mid-sentence, he grabbed my arm and my book bag and took me into his bedroom. Far from being Adult Happy Hour, he opened my bag and took out one of my ever-present books, sat me down on his bed, handed me said book and told me not to exit the room until I felt more like myself. He left and shut the door behind him. It was like one of those Snickers commercial– only it was a book that eased my discontent and not gooey nougat. (This one scene pretty much sums up why I wasted an embarrassing amount of time on him).
I wonder if, in the future, there will be space for another person on that side of the bed — if my books are just a place keeper, biding time until human replacement is available like reverse automation. Or the alternative:
What if I marry a person who sleeps with books too? What if instead of children, our book collection crowds us out of our Queen-sized bed at night.and into the guest bedroom down the hall. What if each night, our books wake us up in the witching hours with bad dreams and unquenchable thirst and we find ourselves stumbling down the darkened hallway to take refuge in an abandoned bed of words. What if we find comfort, and each other, among their pages?