I sleep on the left side of the bed. I’m not even entirely sure how it happened, but as far as I remember it’s always been that way. When I say “left” I mean the view from standing at the foot of the bed, so it might be right to you instead. Regardless, I’ve always slept there, so sleeping on the right side would be odd. Maybe I wouldn’t even be able to fall asleep on that “other” side because I’m very much a creature of habit.
Every night before I settle in for sleep I make sure my alarm is set, I subtly fluff my pillow, and I slide my slippers off and place them on the floor under the radiator so they’re warm and toasty when I slide into them in the morning. I do all of that on autopilot, like a robot, like clockwork, because it’s what I’ve done since 2002, no matter what job I’ve been performing, or what else has been going on in my life. It soothes me, the mindless ritual on the left side of the bed.
My nightstand isn’t really a nightstand either, but that’s the way I like it too. It’s really a small white cabinet that holds my entire U2 collection (sans vinyl), and atop it sits my alarm clock, my glasses case, and my compartmentalized tray that holds odds and ends. My mother-in-law has been trying to get me to trade it out for a “regular” nightstand but it’s the one thing I won’t budge on, because it too is part of my tradition. On the right side of the bed is one of those regular nightstands, but I find the two sides symmetrical because my wife is a regular nightstand, right-side-of-the-bed kind of person, and I’m a white cabinet, left-side-of-the-bed person. They both fit.
In the mornings I reach out to silence my alarm, then sigh audibly while I stare up at the ceiling for a few moments before climbing out of bed. My slippers wait for me under the radiator, warm and ready to begin the day. On the right side of the bed my wife stirs, and I give her a kiss, also before climbing out of bed. Then time begins to move in a linear fashion as my dreams fall away, replaced by the reality of yawns, stretching, and a journey to the bathroom for the morning sabbatical and a swift shower.
I tried to sleep in the middle of the bed when my wife went to visit her friend in Connecticut, but I couldn’t manage to fall asleep. I kept staring at the ceiling, counting sheep, or goats, or whatever else I could think of, to no avail. It was only when I finally slid back onto the left side that I was able to relax and drift off to a dreamless sleep. Maybe it was because my body assumed my wife must be on her side and it was okay to close my eyes and drift away. I held her pillow close to me and everything was right — er, left — with the world.
I wonder what will happen if we ever move our bed against the wall on my side, if I will be able to adjust my routine accordingly, or if I will be eternally lost trying to figure out the logistics of getting out at the bottom of the bed instead of to the left. Hopefully I’ll never have to find that out. After all, we’re all creatures of habit, aren’t we?