On beds

Hey, all- I know this isn’t Farmlet-specific AT ALL, but I was away at Lesbian Writers Camp this past week, and I wrote this little thing, which I’m going to share here.

Some context: for the last 20 years, I’ve worked the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival. The other day, I added up the time I’ve actually spent living in the forest, in a tent: 78 weeks. A year and a half of my life, if you paste it all together.  So I’ve spent a ton of time thinking about, hauling around, and sometimes complaining about my little home in the woods. Writers camp, by comparison, has bunks in cabins- you just unroll a sleeping bag, and you’re all moved in. SUPER weird.

A meditation on beds, from the Anonymous cabin

21 years ago this summer, I went to michfest for the first time. A dear friend had a lifetime pass, and gave it to a different low income woman from my town every year- so I bought a pair of cargo shorts and hiking boots (because I was going camping), piled into a Honda civic with 3 other dykes and proceeded to get SUPER lost on the back roads of rural Michigan. We rolled in the gates at 2 minutes to midnight, piled all our crap into a giant heap in the dark in the twilight zone, and fell asleep in the tangle of nylon and tent stakes that we later labeled ‘camp clusterfuck’ on a bit of discarded cardboard. For 4 days, a sleeping bag on the leaf litter seemed a fine bed, and anyway- I wasn’t in it very long.

The following year- I was still unable to afford a ticket, but wanted desperately to go back. So I applied as a worker and was told I’d spend 3 weeks slinging tofu and nutritional yeast in a big striped tent. With that length of time, I was certain that I was going to need a better bed, and you know how helpful lesbians are: a friend lent me a thermorest. It was just as good as a mattress, she said, really comfortable, and so easy! It would be WAY more comfortable than sleeping directly on the ground. Now, it was only 2/3 as long and EXACTLY as wide as my body, which didn’t argue for the height of comfort, but I was game, and anyway, it fit in my bag on the greyhound bus. I still have vivid memories of the whiny lover I also tried out that year, and the terrible bruise she acquired on her left knee from a tree root. Your bed, she said, is bullshit.

So the next year, I took another step up in bedding technology; an air mattress. It was cheap, easy to pack, it fit in my suitcase, but damn- that thing sucked up cold from the forest floor like that was its job. I spend the whole summer trying new and creative ways to keep warm- multiple layers, extra blankets, hanging out by the fire until my clothes were warm, sleeping in a hat, sweaty lovers, but none of it worked. I was cold the entire time.

After that debacle, I knew I needed a new approach. ANOTHER helpful lesbian told me about this genius invention- the thermal blanket. It was like aluminum foil folded up super tiny into a little packet, you unfolded it and put it between the air mattress (the giant heat sucker of doom), and your sheets, and it would radiate your warmth upwards. This was a great idea- and it actually worked, except that if you moved in your bed AT ALL it sounded exactly like rustling a giant bag of potato chips. I was left exhausted, awake, and HUNGRY in the middle of the night- but at least I wasn’t cold.

By this point, I’d finally been volunteering long enough that I was eligible for worker storage- and could buy a sheet of plywood and a foam mattress, creating a remarkably cushy bed raised on 4 milk crates. It was the very height of luxury. That year, I was warm, I was comfortable, and my bed wasn’t giving me the midnight munchies- but I did manage to tip myself AND a lover out of the rickety contraption in the middle of the night: apparently there were too many moving parts, both women and infrastructure.

But for the last 10 years, my bed was perfect. SURE, I had to haul the damn thing out into the woods and set it up- a sweaty, time-consuming, mosquito-infested process. One year I drove a splinter into my hand so deep that it had to be cut out and bandaged. But the whole thing was sturdy, crates and ply carefully zip-tied together, wrapped in warm Canadian fleece sheets, and in the middle of the afternoon, with dappled, tree-scented sunlight warming it and sound check coming through the woods, it was the very best place in the world.

About faegood

Nerd. Cook. Animal lover. Pen for hire.
This entry was posted in Homesteading, Musings. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to On beds

  1. bevinbranlandingham says:

    Love this and the warm memories, Fae.

    Liked by 1 person

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