Carrie planned thoughtfully for her first night lying in the arms of Morpheus, the god of dreams. Her husband moved out that day, so she knew the only arms waiting for her in that big brass bed upstairs would be those she conjured up in her dreams.
She covered the bed with fresh sheets. She sprayed those sheets with her favorite perfume, Escape, by Calvin Klein. Drew a hot bath and luxuriated in the old claw foot tub until the water turned chill. Rummaged through her grandmother’s wooden hope chest to find the tissue paper packet enclosing the nightgown she wore on her wedding night ten years ago. Slipped it on. Climbed in between the crisp sheets, inhaled the scent redolent of sensuality and love.
She made love to herself. Made love to herself because she knew she deserved it, even though she and love had been strangers for quite some time. Made love to herself because she was determined to keep that spark alive in herself, ready for when the time was right to invite someone else besides Morpheus to lie in bed with her.
We’re all different, we newly divorced women. Each of us experiences that first night alone differently.
Tracey locked her bedroom door. With her son and daughter sleeping down the hall, locking that door was something she’d never thought of doing before. What was she locking out? What was she locking in? These are questions she can’t answer.
No antique brass bed in her room. No bed at all. Her husband threw that in his rented truck that afternoon. The bed was one of the few things he brought to the marriage, and he was taking it away now that marriage was over.
So Tracey lay on one of the twin beds from her daughter’s room, with one of her daughter’s matching bedside lamps on the floor beside her. Cables and cords littered the floor around her. She couldn’t imagine what had been hooked up to them all, had been unaware of the mechanics going on in her own bedroom.
Now she lay there in that bed thinking, “It’s all up to me. The kids, the house, my life, the burden of all of this, it’s mine now.”
At first, sleeping alone was difficult. The least noise in the house woke her up, worried her. She’d wake up when she rolled over and didn’t bump into the familiar body that used to share her bed.
After she bought her own queen-size bed and claimed the room as her own, she made a pact with herself to not sleep on only one side of the bed. Pragmatist that she is, she decided she could wash the sheets less often, and therefore have them last longer, if she slept in different spots. Plus, she’d save wearing out the mattress.
For me, the last night together was the one that marked the change in my life. I lay next to Alan that night, not sleeping at all, knowing he was moving out the next day, my mind filled with images from our past, thinking about how this was possibly the last night that I would ever sleep next to a man. We didn’t touch that night. Before, when I had been his much-loved wife, we always spooned each other in our sleep. Now we were distant, each carefully on our side of the bed.
No Morpheus for me that night. Nor for many nights to come.
Not because of sleeping alone. I was used to that. Alan traveled on business throughout our marriage, so the discomfort and fears that plague so many newly separated women weren’t mine the first night his clothes no longer hung in the closet.
No, I slipped from Morpheus’ embrace because of the emptiness in my heart, not of my bed.