When I saw the booklight bookmark, I had to buy it. As an add-on, a stocking stuffer. For my sister, I thought. But I somehow sensed it was less than perfect. It wasn't really her. But it wasn't really me either. But I had to have it. For someone. So I bought it, took it home, tested it, bent it this way and that, slid it into a book, propped it up on the desk. Pretty cool. For my sister. Then she opened it, and was less than enthused. Then she turned it on, and it flashed bright for an instant, then nothing. So the next day I went in search of batteries, and I found batteries, at a price that surpassed the cost of the booklight. But I had to make good on the gift, so I bought them. I replaced the batteries, but the booklight still would not work. I apologized and took it home with me. I returned the booklight to the shop around the corner, without fuss. I'd considered replacing it with a functioning model and calling it my own, but there were none in stock. I own a booklight already anyway. But it galled me to own expensive batteries for which I had no potential purpose.
For Christmas, I gave my brother the DVD he'd specifically requested. He opened it and was less than enthused. He'd bought it for himself, assumed I'd never have remembered the title anyway. "I hope you kept the receipt." I was certain I had. On returning home and unpacking, it was one of the first orders of business to match receipts to unwanted merchandise. I found receipts for tree ornaments and postage stamps and every gift I'd purchased but this one. Could it be I'd sorted the receipts into essentials and discards and thrown out the wrong pile? Or had I defied my instinct — it's not a chain store so carrying the receipt with me is pointless, but I should keep it just in case, but he specifically asked for it, but maybe I got the title wrong, but I'm sure he specifically asked for this one, but he's been known to not adhere to expected behaviour, I'll bet he bought it for himself, but he specifically asked for it — and put it in the wrong pile? After fully unpacking and tidying and dismantling the pitiful decorations and storing the wrapping accoutrements and triple-checking 2 purses and 2 usual receipt-storing places and a couple other spots where it just might've, but wouldn't've, been mixed up with bills, correspondence, and to-do lists, I bucked up to take it back to the store anyway, receiptless, knowing no future credit card statement would back me up, having the distinct recollection of having paid cash and not even accepting a bag, having come to the end of my shopping excursion that day and having surpassed my fair quotient of amassing redundant plastic, my biggest fear being that it wasn't properly demagnetized and I'd set off the sensors on my way in, and they'd find it bagless, receiptless, stuffed in my messenger bag, and accuse me on the spot of shoplifting and relieve me of it with nothing in return but gross embarrassment. But the cashier told me I could exchange it, so I took a few minutes to find a suitable replacement, and the second cashier raised his eyebrows at my explanation in faltering French, and moved slowly, excruciatingly slowly, but after throughly assessing my character (which I fear emits a vibe that should others rely on their instinct to assess it, they would arrive at the wrong conclusion) told me "we don't usually do this," because I was receiptless, after all, and allowed me to pay the difference and walk out of the store with a different movie in my messenger bag (a different kind of embarrassment), neither plastic-bagged nor difference-receipted, because, you understand, I hadn't supplied any evidence beyond that which my character wordlessly spoke of. So I called my brother to make sure he hadn't by chance picked up this movie for himself since last we spoke, and he hadn't.
The mattress would be delivered the following afternoon. A screw on the bedframe needs tightening. May as well clean behind, under, around. Make way for the new.
I find my old booklight, the one Helena likes to "camp" with so now emits the feeblest glow. The light is not a masterpiece of design, but it's functional (well, when it's functioning) and Helena appreciates it in ways beyond my capacity. My expensive batteries have a meaningful new home, a bright future.
I thread an extension cord behind some bedroom furniture, meaning to finally move that lamp. In retrieving that lamp from the other room, fumbling behind the shelves by the desk, I find a small slip of paper, the receipt for the movie my brother specifically asked for. The movies is no longer in my possession, the receipt is useless, so I throw it away. But my faith is restored in my memory, in my feeling of certainty. I knew I had it.
The bedside tables are straightened up. Casually strewn in J-F's drawer is Le rouge et le noir, the copy he took with him when he was away on business in November, and was certain he'd lost, forgotten at the hotel, and was afraid to tell me so for weeks. The reason I've failed to make good on my promise to read it in French. I want to start reading the French now more than ever.
I go to bed really happy, reassured by the cosmic order of things restored.
In the morning I'll have to strip the bed, fold up the futon, make sure the passage is clear for the delivery men.
Helena climbs into our bed. It's 1:00 in the morning. She tosses and turns. I'm losing patience. She throws up. I strip the bed. She throws up again. J-F decides to sleep elsewhere. I do laundry. Helena throws up 5, 6 times in 4 hours. Laundry now includes an excessive number of towels and nightshirts and a lion handpuppet. The bedspread and pillows at least will be cleaner than I meant to bother with, which is just as well. A new bed.
Helena stays home in the morning. I have an article to edit. I breakfast on cappuccino; I'm grateful that she has no appetite. Laundry migrates from the to-do pile to the to-fold pile, and the smell of stale vomit gradually disappears.
The delivery men arrive in the final half hour of their 6-hour delivery window.
The bed is big, so big. Just the mattress. A very thick mattress. It looks wrong. We'll have to lower the supports within the wood frame. It's too high. I like sleeping low to the ground: I feel grounded. High is for princesses, with elaborate cushions. High is a stage, or a man-made island. It makes me feel anxious and exposed.
I should be in bed right now, but I miss the futon. I like sleeping low to the ground.