The monster is under the bed. The old stories are under the bed. My fears of being cast away in the midst of Thanksgiving are under the bed. Meet me under the bed. Hold me under the bed, until the under and the over don’t matter anymore.
Under the bed and under the boardwalk and under the weather.
Actually, right now I am flying well above the weather, over maybe Nova Scotia, and it is looking pretty fucking cold out there. Frankfurt to Boston in what amounts to a flying bed. I would hurt myself if I tried to get under here, plus I would miss all the tasty snacks that Nina the therapist-in-training and her colleagues keep bringing my way. Snow drifts in wide valleys. Cat-belly clouds rippling over the surface of the earth like there are no borders and no boundaries. There are no borders and no boundaries.
Under the bed is where Elliot’s and Chloe’s and Timothy’s and my hair all drift together in silky dust-cloud nebulae. Under the bed is where virgin carpet lives, never harassed by vacuuming, never stained, never worn down by feet or paws. Under the bed is the preserve of old watercolor paintings of flowers by Timothy’s Nana, that I once thought I might draw on top of, echoing a cave wall’s accumulation of layered mammoths and deer. I have not done this. Under the bed are Nana’s untouched Japanese ladies and roses.
We are flying over a giant breach in the clouds, through which, more clouds can be glimpsed under the bed. Someone’s pulled back the covers, and underneath are more covers. It’s covers all the way down, except it can’t be. Nova Scotia’s down there somewhere. My home is down there somewhere, and my bed, and Chloe and Elliot at the Puppy Hoosegow. We fly over cover of cloud. We fly under cover of sky.
Thanksgiving brings monsters out from under my bed. Instead of feeling thankful and producing perfect pies, the parts of me that have never felt loved in this world come forward to declare their griefs. I’ve never been wanted here. You can’t see me unless I wear the ill-fitting clothes of my ancestors. I am not a ghost. I am here, even if you don’t want to see me, and I feel like an idiot for traveling all this way to see you. This time, I understand these parts aren’t going to find what they need, alone. I text my brother, I know in some way this is silly, but could you come see me? I am downstairs, under the bed, having a hard time. He shows up. He listens. The exile parts feel a little less unpresentable and alone. My dad joins us. It’s an under-the-bed conference. It doesn’t matter whether what I am saying makes sense. I say it and am heard and welcomed back. We all go upstairs and eat together.
We are flying over two more long rents in the clouds. Maybe it’s important for ruptures to arise, so that there’s some airflow between the over- and under-the-bed realms? Otherwise they would forget about one another, and drift apart.
I have just finished reading a friend’s long memoir, which reads in part like a long invitation to come under the bed, or stay under the bed, or welcome him back out from under the bed and into the light. There are sections where I read and am asleep, and sections where I read and am electrified by the strangeness or power or resonance of what I am receiving.
We are flying over the covers.
By the time I finally reach home, I will feel like a monster who needs a bed to crawl into, not under. It’s possible my whole driveway is a sheet of ice. It’s possible I won’t even be able to drive in and will need to pick-axe my way home. Possible but not likely.
Once, I saw bewildered anguish flicker across a friend’s eyes. I must have let my desire show, he said, before shoving the whole thing back under the bed. How do we decide who and what lives in our beds, or under them? Under the bed can be OK for a little while, to release the pressure of remembering all the lines, up top, but it’s really no place to live. Fuck the script. Fuck the fucking-script, especially. Let it go. What do you feel like? More kissing. This. Not that. You. Not you. Tenderness. An end to the sense of being alone in my monsterhood.
What happens when desire goes under the bed? Snacking. This new phone. My calendar. Proxy-wars, both internal and external. My head tells me that I exist, but the signals from my body are weak. I can’t get through. I feel mean. I notice how people swallow and laugh nervously. I forget that I clear my throat and am nervous, too, when I feel there’s no space for desire to emerge openly in the world. I forget I snore. Desire can actually be quite friendly in its chaotic intensity. I might not get what I want, but there won’t be any doubt I’m alive.
The clouds part for good and now we are flying over a snowy landscape tunneled and riddled with roads. People are down there. I can’t see where they live or where their beds are, but I can see the tracks of their desires in the paths snaking outwards from a river basin across huge white fields of snow. No one can stay under the bed forever, and once we’re out, our migrations dance the shape of the world.
Julie Püttgen is an artist, expressive arts therapist, and meditation teacher.
108 Names of Now