Mating For Life

Mating For Life


Sleep Tight

This is not going to be about sex.  If that’s what you were after, move along now.

This is about “bediquette”, habits, sleep and the lack thereof.

As I was falling asleep the other night in our suite on Kauai with the window-less “walls” and the sounds of the Hawai’ian night murmuring outside-in, I checked my sleep position; removing my elbow from Dave’s back, sliding my two pillows slightly to the left, draping my right arm over his body, slipping my hand under his arm and laying my fingers over his in exactly the set position that we have adopted for almost 20 years.  Awake, these guys below have the general attitude.


And then it hit me.

I was flooded with ideas about life, love, consistency and continuity.  Brilliant, blog-worthy insightful ideas.

And then it hit me.

I would never remember this in the morning.


I had to disentangle myself, get out of bed, grab the pad and get some of these ideas down now or these sparkling and oh-so-revelatory insights would be lost, like so many others, in the ethers of sleep.

The problem is, the ethers of sleep were close upon me and when I reread the terse and mundane notes I had jotted down later on, they seemed all but a foreign tongue and something that had certainly meant something to someone at some point but little to me in the harsh light of day.  I must work on a way to capture these quixotic ephemera in a manner more befitting of an actual documentarian of human nature or at least a wanna be writer if I am to derive any satisfaction from these exercises, but that is something to ponder anew at some future time.

For now, back to the musings-in-hand.

There are many, many species that mate for life. Swans, wolves, Black Vultures (do not Google these if you at all squeamish, they are ugly).  I wonder how they sleep? Do they have the complex and territorial ecosystem that we humans have developed? Do you negotiate for limb position in a tree? Do they argue over which tree is the best? Which cave is the driest? They don’t worry about who locked up the house or turned off the lights but do they discuss their relative predator protection modes?

I was remembering back to when I first met Dave, back in that other century we left behind a decade or so back.  I had been a single person all my life and, as such, my sleeping habits had been long formed and firmly rooted in my personal history.  I shared my nocturnal spaces with the cats whose presences I have had the privilege of inhabiting over the years. We negotiated our territory, staked out our sides of the mattress and slept in a peaceful pride of tangled, purring, perfection.

I thought, at first, that I would have a hard time getting used to the sharing of this very private, fragile and personal space.  We chose-up sides, immediately, mine on the left (I always lean left in all things human and political).  We have remained thus ever since.  We arrive at hotels, guests rooms, the occasional tent, and quickly settle in to our pattern.  I adapted well. Now, I cannot fathom not having him there on his side, although the cats are more than a little happy when he’s not home and they immediately start to repatriate themselves into new territory, hoping that when he returns, he won’t notice their new digs.

Over the years, the various newcomer cats (Carson and Kyan the most recent) have had to adapt to our ingrained habits. Well, that’s not entirely true.  They push, prod, invade, claw, encroach and generally try to assert their dominance…..nightly…..forever, as if the outcome will trend in their favor if only they can persevere long enough.

There is so much to be negotiated in sleep status:

Cool  vs Warm room

Blanket vs Sheet

Tucked in sheets vs loose

The occasional sunburn causes us to retreat apart from the heat and seek separate corners, again, leaving the cats to stake out the middle ground, assuming of course, that this will a the new and permanent status.

The occasional injury (ok, in my case more than occasional) requires adaptations, pillows between the knees, switching sides due to surgeries (this is such a nightmare on so many levels) which requires sleeping nearby but not being able to “assume the position” and therefore feeling like you’re sleeping with a stranger and once again, giving the animals the upper paw in the position negotiations. Then there’s the switching sides debacle.  We’re both left side sleepers but when I have had left sided surgery I must flip flop and this is a real sore spot, so to speak.

There is something fundamentally unsettling about not being able to settle.

Then there is the pillow height debate.  I require two firm pillows (broad shoulders) to keep my head in the right position and Dave takes only one so there is a nightly positioning routine, complicated when on the road by hotel’s almost always crappy, limp and flat pillows.  There is an argument here for 5 Star resorts but that’s another column. I have been known to was up clothing, fold towels, anything handy to elevate my personal pillow height.  Dave has been known to kindly venture down to various front desks around the world and wheedle me an extra pillow or two.  He’s even swiped them off carts or out of unattended storage rooms for me.  He’s a keeper.

So I end with the comfort and security of having found the perfect position, the perfect mate and yes, even the perfect cats.  Like the lovebirds know, mating for life has its advantages.

PS.  Bella sleeps in her own bed in her own room.  Those who sleep with dogs?  Well that’s their problem.


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