Bedtime Tales

A friend sent me this picture recently. This is what I’ve been doing today, painting the bedroom and a bed. It’s a low-impact day for a woman who owns her own dropsaw. The joke is that her husband has to darn his own socks because she’s too busy building furniture, and I understand he’s pretty handy with a needle. She’s also a full-time (plus) working mother, with two of the most amazing kids you could hope to meet. She calls herself an underachiever. What that makes me I don’t want to think about.

Back to the picture… I think this used to be yours? I flicked a cursory glance, confident she was wrong as I know I’ve never given her a bed. But, wait – yes, that was mine.

The bed is the one I bought when I left my first husband over thirty years ago. I’d always wanted a pine bed and took the opportunity when no one else had any input into the decision. It gained its first scratch as it was being built, a friend who was helping me slipping with the screwdriver and scoring a deep gash in one of its legs. I was aghast but couldn’t say anything – he was helping me, right? The bed stayed mine until I met Neil, when it became ours. When we moved to our own house, a large Victorian end-terrace with huge rooms and high ceilings, we bought another and this became the spare bed, well used when friends from out of town visited.

It picked up more marks of life over the years. In 2002, along with all the rest of our furniture, it went into storage, and a year later took to the high seas on the long journey to the far southern hemisphere. When it arrived we couldn’t find the bolts that put it together anywhere, in vain searching through boxes of discarded packing paper. And there was a lot – many trees died to move us to New Zealand. I can’t think about it. We visited a local hardware supplier and he produced bolts that would do the job but were functional rather than attractive. No matter. Once the duvet was on you couldn’t see them.

In 2007 we moved to a smaller house and the bed moved out of our lives to live with friends, becoming their daughter’s for a few years, gaining a new mattress in the process. In 2013 it came back to us when we bought our Ohakune house, picking up a few more scratches on the journey north, a tiny bit closer to its roots. It was dwarfed by the large, gable-ceilinged second bedroom, but it saw frequent use, both as nightly support for visiting friends and lodging place for anything I carried upstairs and couldn’t be arsed to put away.

Two years ago we sold our Wellington house. The second bed there was larger and newer and it made sense to keep that so we put out the word: anyone need a bed? Friends in the process of building a house said Yes and it moved on to another home. Turns out that, build complete, it was too large for the room they’d acquired it for so was again offered to any takers.

I’m glad it found another good home; I hate throwing things away. Gathering dust in a corner of our bedroom are two pairs of shorts I will never fit into again, one hiking, one board. They are well worn and probably unsuitable for op shop donation, but they do still have some wear in them and I’m loathe to discard them to landfill when someone might find them useful for, well, hiking or wet-wear. I’m just not sure who that is yet.

In the garage in Wellington is a dresser that used to belong to my grandmother, a wedding present, she said when she passed it on to her daughter. It lived in the bedroom I shared with my sister when we were teenagers, then moved to live with her in her own home. I acquired it when she no longer needed it, covered in more scratches than unmarked areas, the mirror that sat atop it with the help of two vertical posts silvered and dull. This also made the move to New Zealand and, our new house having built-in furniture in the bedrooms, is of no use to us now. I have to find a home for it.

In situ in Sheffield

In the garage in Ohakune is a larger dresser, antique pine, that looked gorgeous in our large, sun-filled bedroom in Sheffield, the one I miss every day. It’s always had a whiff about it, drawers often needing to be left open for a few days to air, but a couple of years unused in storage seems to have been the death knell of any trace of non-noxious aroma and it awaits treatment to be usable again. I have what I need to do the job, but it’s been a hot summer and I’ve had relaxing to do. I’ll get to it one day. Clearly I need to take lessons from my local underachiever.

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