Dad started building it when I was five.
For two years, it lived in his garage workshop. He worked on it whenever he could. He even put up with his two toddlers (me and my sister) “helping” with various tasks. Somewhere there’s a picture of the pair of us dressed in his old t-shirts, wielding paintbrushes as we helped to paint the headboard.
When I was seven, it was finished: The most awesome bed a kid could want. A loft bed, the sleeping platform stood five feet from the ground. Dad cannibalized an old ladder with flat rungs to become my means of reaching the mattress. Four plywood panels surrounded the area underneath; with windows and a door cut out, this area became a great playhouse. Continuing with this theme, the headboard and foot board were shaped so as to give the appearance of a sloped roof. These pieces were also deep enough to contain a shelf and two storage bins each. Add a guardrail and two shades of blue paint, and I had the coolest bed ever!
Bed Day was a big deal. First, Dad and I disassembled my old trundle bed. I think it went to a coworker of his, but I don’t know for certain. Then the parts of my new bed were brought in. Despite “help” from the cat and me, Dad managed to put the bed together in good time. That night, as I read in bed, my cat, Archimedes, meowed from the floor, protesting the fact that she couldn’t get to me. So I got out of bed, picked up the cat and carried her back up the ladder. Within three days, she was climbing the ladder by herself.
Like any piece of child’s furniture, the bed saw a lot of use. The playhouse idea was great, and it also functioned as a storage area for my toys. The bed offered a great hiding place for games of hide and seek. Throwing a blanket over the guard rail made a great puppet theatre. The ladder became cliffs for my Max Steel dolls to climb, or display shelves for the day’s LEGO creations.
About four years later, the panels came off, leaving a more traditional loft bed behind. At this point, the guardrail next to the mattress also came down, much to the delight of my cat. Now she could properly survey her kingdom from on high. Around this time, room was made under the bed for my desk. Eventually, most of the toys were either given away or boxed up and put into storage in my closet.
The summer between sophomore and junior year of high school, I re-did my room. The bed stayed, but was pushed to the opposite wall. This gave me more room to display my Star Wars collection. My desk stayed under the bed, and was joined by a little reading nook consisting of two small bookshelves and a rocking chair. Books were also stored in the bins and shelves Dad had built into the headboard and foot board.
As silly as it sounds, my bed was one of the things that I missed when I went to college. I deliberately lofted my bed in the dorms. It wasn’t as high as my bed back home, but it was better than nothing. Trips home meant sleeping in my bed, but as Archimedes was now in her teens she couldn’t climb the ladder to curl up with me at night.
Graduation from college meant moving back in with my parents. My room looked the same, and my bed was still my bed. Unfortunately, there was no longer a little gray kitty to snuggle with; Archimedes passed away about a month before I received my diploma.
Over the next two years, I completed grad school, worked as a teacher, and continued working at the local museum. One of the new cats began following me around, and eventually decided that the bed was a good place to be. No matter how crazy my students were or how terribly my job search was going, at the end of the day I would curl up in bed with a good book and all of my problems would disappear.
Being a young adult living in your parents’ house isn’t easy. Mom and Dad were great, but I definitely needed my own space. This past winter, I finally found a place, and had to make a decision: Did my bed come with me? Laugh if you want, but this took a lot of thought! After all, it is a loft bed, and in a studio apartment like mine that can really help to maximize the space. Then there was the comfort factor. On the other hand, it is only a twin-size bed, and if I ever hope to have a relationship more room would be better. Plus, not everyone is as comfortable with the idea of sleeping five feet in the air as I am.
In the end, I opted to get a new bed. With my permission, Dad disassembled my old bed and stored the pieces. He briefly talked about recycling the wood for use in his current projects, but respected my request not to do so. I had vague, half-formed ideas about one day having kids of my own and reassembling the bed for them, but given that I’m not even seeing anyone right now the ideas are more fantasy than reality.
A few months after I moved out, Dad called me with a proposition: The Linber family up the street were looking for a loft bed for one of their kids. Could he sell the bed to them? I barely hesitated in saying yes. I’ve known this family since they moved in to the neighborhood three years ago, and I love those four kids. I knew that the bed would be going to a good home.
On Halloween, I went back to my parents’ neighborhood to help the Linber family go trick or treating, something I’ve done every year since they moved in. Before we went out, little M insisted on showing me her new bed. I followed her in to her bedroom, and there it was: My old bed, looking just the same. The panels are back up to create a playhouse, and M scampered happily up the ladder, showing me her stuffed animals on the shelf in the headboard. She clearly loves it. And even though I’m still sad that it’s no longer mine, I’m glad that another kid is getting such a great bed.