How to Look at a Bed

©Copyright 2021 Payton Flood, Ryerson University.

A bed can mean everything and nothing.  It can be the place you return to only at night then abandon in the morning.  It can be a couch, a desk, a safe haven, a place to cry, a place to love, a place to be alone or a place to share.  My bed is different from your bed, is different from her bed, his bed, their bed.  It’s different from a dog or cat bed, a bed of grass, and bedrock.  The bed in figure 1 is my bed.  This bed raised me, from childhood to teens to moving home during my last year of university.  It’s the kind of bed that was marketed for sleep but does so much more.  My bed is unmade.  Why?  Because sometimes it’s a desk where I go to work or school on, sometimes it’s a couch where I watch Netflix or read from, and sometimes (most times) I’m just too damn lazy to make it.
Payton Flood's bed with a wrinkled, pink and orange floral comforter.
Figure 1. Flood, Payton. “How to Look at a Bed.” February 9, 2021. Digital Photograph. Canada. ©Payton Flood.


This bed, my bed, under its pink and orange floral comforter, contains a set of three-day-old lilac fleece sheets, top and fitted sheet because I get cold.  Under the fitted sheet, you’ll find a down mattress cover, the mattress, and a box-spring.  Two pillows, one memory foam clad in black satin that I cannot, under any circumstances, sleep without; and one regular cotton-clad pillow for between my knees because I’m a twenty-one-year-old with hip problems.  The bedframe used to be my grandparents, my papa painted it white for me when they got their new bed; you can still see taints of pale blue poking through the pure-white paint (I probably should have asked him to do a second coat).

This bed is not new, new to me when I got it thirteen years ago, but not new to being owned.  Some beds have one owner, like my bed at my dad’s house; that bed has only ever been mine.  Some beds, like hotel beds, see multiple hosts, but never an owner.  Some beds don’t have a comforter/duvet, or a top sheet, or pillow.  Some beds have none of these things, are none of these things, but are a bed simply because they provide a place of rest.  For a friend sleeping over, the bed is the couch or the floor.  For the homeless, the bed is a sleeping bag or the pavement.  For a cat, the bed is the human’s lap or an empty box.  Just because it’s marketed as a bed, does not mean it is one, and just because an object is marketed as having some other function, does not mean it can’t also be a bed.  My bed is a place I miss when I’m gone for too long, it’s my creature comfort.  Pre-pandemic, when I lived in Toronto, I longed for the weekends and reading weeks and holidays when I could come home to my bed.  When I look at my bed, I see not only a place for rest but my favourite place to cry, to read, to quiet my mind.  I see it beckoning me with its warm layers and soft pillows telling me, “Come now, it’s time to reset.”

Flood, Payton. “How to Look at a Bed.” February 9, 2021. Digital Photograph. Canada
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