Last night I slept on the 15th floor of a high-rise apartment, overlooking Rittenhouse Square Park in the middle of Philadelphia. Tonight, it’s a small room in rural Pennsylvania overlooking a slope down to a pound where a single fountain, inexplicably lit, rises light and water high in the air. It’s a little like sleeping near a mythical golden woman who appears out of the lake only once every thousand years to grant a wish or break a spell.
This will the last of the six beds I dream in over this trip, combining book tour
with ecstatic and healing family visits, a great conference and excessive treks throughout cities in between eating slices of street pizza and bandaging the blisters on my toes. The aforementioned beds were:
- A semi- underground bed and breakfast room, spacious and filled with green fabric and hard-wood, just north of Dupont Circle in Washington, D.C. where I watched Spanglish on TV and dreamt of being at a large gathering morphed into a Goddard residency.
- The 11th story living room of my friend Seema in Bethesda, MD, where I stretched out on a comfortable daybed in between running to the balcony to look out at the gathering thunderstorms.
- A room the size of our mini-van in Chelsea, where Ken and I downed aspirin and shared bandages after walking 16 miles one day through the lower eastside, Greenwich Village, Chelsea, Noho and Soho in New York City. In between gathering strength again on our little bed in our little room, we wandered the streets full of handsome men with handsomer little dogs.
- My mom’s central New Jersey guestroom, which includes a daybed hiding another bed beneath it that, when tapped and squeezed in the right way, rises into a companion bed. Optional super-soft and utterly beautiful cat walking across us in the middle in the night.
- My friends Dinah and Fred’s guest room bed, on the 15th floor of an apartment building with gorgeous gold-leaf wallpaper and matching elegant chairs in its lobby. While this bed is more often occupied by their grandson, I was lucky enough to sleep in it last night, dreaming of getting lost, then getting found.
- Tonight’s bed — a sure thing for at least four nights (possibly more if the coming hurricane heads toward the mid-Atlantic states) — in this lovely small room in a sprawling house in the middle of a Quaker Retreat Center. Somewhere, I’m told, in the nearby woods is the largest and oldest tree in Pennsylvania.
All the beds were certainly comfortable enough, bathtubs abounded at most locations, and I often slept with the windows open, infusing my sleep with the cooling air of cities or suburbs, country lanes or racing streets. While I do miss my own bed at home — surrounded by big dogs and a little cat, a fast-asleep husband and the drier Kansas air — I’m grateful for each of these beds. I’m also refreshed by the sleep that bridges days of wandering, hugging, greeting, and generally stepping on ground I thought I’ve long lost or am discovering for the first time.