Last spring after I set up for Bayou Boogaloo, my friend watched my booth as I ran home to shower. Afterward, I plopped on my four-poster bed – and it collapsed. On Fannie. My lovely, dear, slightly neurotic dog. I have heard those stories about people in a state of panic who run out of their houses naked. A fire. An earthquake. And I have always thought – “Idiots, can’t they grab a towel?” But if there had been a vet outside I would have sprinted outside naked in the street clutching my sweet Fannie. Luckily, I had some studio lights under my bed in a hard case that prevented it from collapsing all the way, but still, Fannie’s cries and desperate squirming as I tried to rescue her stayed with me. It also got me thinking – maybe it’s time for a new bed.
When my ex and I broke up, I gave away the bed that I designed and he made for me. (And, ahem, if the friend I gave it to is reading this – you still owe me some painting labor). It was a beautiful bed – iron, four-poster as well – but I felt to truly break with the past it was best to let it go. I went back to my old bed that I had in storage.
When I was about 19 or 20, I saw the most gorgeous bed in an advertisement for a furniture store in Seattle. A soft light cherry wood-framed, four-poster bed. I saved up for a year and went into the store, advertisement in hand, hoping it was still available. It was, and it became my first major piece of furniture. It made me feel very grown up (although my friend JUST told me that the bed was kind of “teenage Christian girlish”).
This queen-sized bed was in my apartment in Seattle and literally took up the whole room. You walked in and climbed on the bed and that was it. It traveled all the way to my apartment in the French Quarter, where I also had a hammock in the living room and could do cartwheels across the floor. Then to my side of my double in Uptown, to my shotgun in the Bywater, to my other shotgun in Mid-City (where once again it took up almost the entire room) to finally my Creole Cottage in Bayou St. John (also Mid-City – just trying to mix it up a bit).
I loved the bed because it was high up, and I could sit on the edge and swing my legs. The high beams atop the posts were great for hanging my laundry on when I folded my clothes. And Christmas lights. And a disco ball. And roller derby helmets, and Elvi sashes, and a red bullwhip that I bought at Jazz Fest that almost inspired me to write a song called, “I’m broke because I spent all my money on a red bullwhip… Yea, yea, yea…” The bed was high enough for the dogs to sleep underneath, and it was comforting to hear their snores beneath me every night. But despite these sublime qualities, and despite the fact I had the lower frame reinforced (again), it was still a bit rickety. Every time I rolled over or turned, I worried that it would fall apart. So I started thinking about other options. I searched for beds. Looked online. Thought about alternatives – maybe an old cypress door or mantel as a headboard? But I couldn’t find anything that really struck me. Then one morning I woke up, sat up straight in my beautiful but shaky bed, and remembered my old iron gate.
The section of the old gate had been there since I bought my house years ago. It was broken and I just stashed it on the side of the house. It was rusted through by about 1/8 inch but had this uneven sweeping elegance to it. There was a sad abandoned quality to her, as if she was no longer appreciated. No longer needed. And perhaps that is why I never threw her away.
I held onto the thought of transforming my old gate into a new bed for a while. Wondering how I could do it. Eventually I was able to do a trade with a welder (photographs for cutting the gate and welding bed rails to it). The new steel, however, didn’t match the aged gate. So, I left the railings outside, spraying them down with water to rust them, but eventually gave in and did a few coats of Chemprime, which didn’t rust it exactly the way I wanted or the way it was advertised – it kinda looked like a bird shit on my railings. But after sanding it down, and spraying it down again, I became satisfied with its “aging.”
My feeling of mourning for my old bed surprised me. It was a bit like having long hair and it getting it cut off. You might look better and be excited, but there is still a sense of loss and sentimental disorientation. Furniture melancholy. And it’s too big for my office/guest room so my other bed (my childhood one that used to be my grandmother’s) will remain there. My cherry four-poster will sadly go to storage. For now.
With my new bed, my bedroom seems more spacious. It seems calmer – especially now that I added an old dresser I bought on the street for $20. I took another dresser to the studio and since the new dresser fits perfectly against the bed, it opened up my room more and I was able to get a loveseat last week (I am anxious to be able to curl up on it with a good book and glass of wine – and still on the hunt for the perfect throw pillows and blanket). Still, it’s a bit of a shock every time I walk into my bedroom; I had some kind of high, four-poster bed in my room for at least 15 years. And it’s weird to swing my feet off in the morning and have them skim the ground. My dogs don’t have to stretch on their tiptoes to kiss me in the morning. It doesn’t sway and rock when I roll over, and I feel like I am already sleeping more soundly. And it has a nice flow to it – like I have my own worldly-wave in my custody. It’s moving, as am I, (and yea, perhaps a bit more aged too) but I feel like it gives me even more freedom. And security.
I have a new bed!