I slept on the couch last night. Not because there is anything wrong with my bedroom or my bed, but because I was stressed and bothered and sleeping on the couch makes me feel better.
This odd habit of mine started many, many moons ago when I was in the Northridge Earthquake in Los Angeles. That quake struck at 4:31am so, obviously, I was in bed. I made it out of my bedroom, dodging falling bookcases and flying stereos and spent the next several hours huddled in a doorway in complete darkness, with my roommates, braving one aftershock after another.
I never slept in that bed again. It took me a couple months before I could even go into the room and clean things up. But from the day after the quake until I moved away from Los Angeles I slept on the living room sofa (I would like to take this opportunity to apologize to my roommates, Melissa and Steve. Sorry Melissa! Sorry Steve! Love you guys!). I felt safer there. I felt like I had control there.
There is of course, no basis for this behavior in logic or reality but it has stuck with me and is now a pattern in my life. Hurricane or tornado warnings when I lived in Florida – slept on the couch. The days following 9/11 when I lived in New Jersey and worked in Manhattan – slept on the couch. And when I first moved to Dublin and cried everyday thinking I’d made the worst mistake of my life – you guessed it, I couched it. I remember crying on the phone to my sister and asking her what if I was never able to sleep in the bedroom of my new apartment. Her response – then you don’t ever sleep in the bedroom, who the hell cares?
And she was right, who the hell cares?
We all have times when we feel like we aren’t in control. And for me, despite all my planning and preparations and to-do lists, moving to Dublin was one of those times. I was completely shell-shocked and, for whatever deep-seated psychological reason, sleeping on the couch calmed me and made me feel better. Eventually of course I did sleep in my bed and have established a life in Dublin that I enjoy and in which I feel in control… most of time.
And when I don’t, I have my couch.