MY ONE NIGHTSTAND
By Hannah Baxter
Deciding to sleep on a certain side of the bed is an arduous task. Many factors apply – relative distance to an outlet; direction of the a/c blast; who will be slain first by a potential serial killer. In a city like New York, this is a valid and constant consideration. Once you’ve laid claim to the left or right, there’s the additional pressure of composing a nightstand – again, one that won’t embarrass you should aforementioned serial killer murder you and any supplementary nighttime partners before you’ve gotten a chance to tidy up. Your bedside table and its contents can speak volumes about your character, or so I’ve heard from various discernible sources.
If you subscribe to the great furniture gods, aka IKEA, then you know that your physical night stand options are numerous. Three drawers and thirty-seven screws can make or break the best of us. Personally, I took the route less travelled and selected a curbside café chair with a jauntily tilted seat. After hauling it home and thoroughly investigating for bed bugs- meaning locking it in my bathroom with a bug bomb for 6 hours- the chair has now traversed two apartments, five roommates, one live-in boyfriend, and stacks upon stacks of books. It’s ragged and ill-suited for storing bedtime necessities, meaning my nightstand horoscope suggests a cluttered and unstable future. More than anything, however, it has character, and survives via the various hardback volumes propping up it’s sloping legs and stabilizing my – gasp – IKEA lamp.
The collection of books rotates, depending on my mood and The New York Times Book Review. When work is stressful and long, I have the perpetually funny and gracious Amy Schumer autobiography. Her predecessors are an impressive bunch of comedians, actresses and writers – Fey, Poehler, Kaling, Klein, Winstead, Dunham – namely women with books who make my fragile feminist heart go gooey. There are love-worn novels of varying obscurity and significance. Rachel Kushner’s The Flamethrowers and Zadie Smith’s White Teeth vie for space as I decide whether to fall asleep amongst 1970’s Italian motorcyclists or 1980’s London radicals. Mary Roach’s Grunt stands by for when I want to learn something new and gross, and William Finnegan’s Barbarian Days for when I want to surf vicariously.
They’re haphazardly stacked, with color coordination best left to the lifestyle bloggers of the universe. Some are dog-eared, pages stained from coffee and spaghetti, because in New York you eat and read, read and eat. If I’ve remembered to leave a pen on the night stand, next to my coconut body lotion and deep-conditioning lip cream, then there are lines and stars next to the phrases that remind me why I relish giving up an hour of sleep each night to this ritual. Nick Flynn’s Another Bullshit Night in Suck City supports my alarm clock, because while I am not a morning person, I do have a sense of irony.
They present a constant opportunity for mayhem, a favorite pastime of my rambunctious cat, and collect dust and discourage vacuuming, an all-too-rare event regardless. Although they lack the minimalist aesthetic I possess in my dreams, I cannot bring myself to limit the stack to just one or two. The chair heaves under the weight of Lorrie Moore and David Sedaris, and groans beneath Lauren Holmes and Rick Moody. Its days are certainly numbered. But until the seat collapses in a clatter of empty water glasses and loose hair ties, the books will remain, waiting for the hour between exhaustion and sleep when I turn to a fresh page and the mess, finally, falls away.