Monthly Essays

Sleeping on the Floor

Recently a friend sold her house in Warrensburg, MO. I only spent one night in her home, but when I sleep somewhere else, giving up consciousness for a few hours, I form a strange attachment to a place. My first thought when I learned of the sale was a sense of loss; I’ll never set foot in that house again.

That sent me down the rabbit hole of other houses where I will never stay again, and they are many. Of course, I thought of the places where I’ve lived. I’ll bet I’m not alone in having driven past a former home to see if the owners are keeping the place up. Although I’ve been impressed with the height of trees we planted, too often I’ve been disappointed. Then I remember I’ve lived in this house nearly 40 years, so those former homes, which were old houses when I lived in them, are elderly now.

As I’ve been thinking about how many friends’ homes I’ve stayed in, I looked at the US map on my office wall and counted—sixteen states. I’ve really slept around. It’s the way I was raised.

In my childhood, relatives would come to our house or vice versa for the night, and the kids would all end up on pallets on the floor. It was fun to have other folks in the house. As a young couple (pre-kids), Jim and I went to house parties, where there were not enough beds for everyone, so we ended up on the floor. I’ve slept on the floor with him in Arkansas, Illinois, Missouri, and Oklahoma. Good times!

I believe staying with others and having others stay with you requires a good deal of trust.

Many decades ago (pre cell phones, back when making a long-distance call was a luxury), my sister, her husband, and their toddler were headed to Montana, so I’d given her a good friend’s phone number to call in Bozeman, just to say hi. My friend insisted they stay with her family. She said, any sister of mine was a friend of hers. Also many years ago, my middle brother gave my number to a good buddy of his who was passing through Denver on his solo camping motorcycle trip. He stayed a couple days in my living room and traded looking up at stars at night for a hot shower.

Though the years, we stayed in lots of friends’ places, and I still do. It’s not only because we were frugal folks, which I still am. There’s a connection made when you stay in someone else’s home and see them in their messy morning hair, pjs and robe, making coffee. Helping fix breakfast is a bonding ritual, cleaning up the kitchen even stronger.

We’ve had many friends stay here, (yes, some even on the floor), so we developed a couple rules:

1)  First one up makes coffee.

2)  If you can’t find something you need, open drawers and cabinets and look for it.

Here at the Jones Inn, I’ll leave the light on for you.

 

Here’s Your Trouble

A Christmas Mystery of Arson and Love–When police officer Vi Cooper strides into the harshly-lighted ER on Thanksgiving night asking for a blood sample from a wreck victim, Doctor Ed Rogers demands a court order. But in the colorful lights of a Christmas tree, he sees Violet Cooper’s softer side without the gun and the badge. In the ER he must make snap decisions. Can’t he do the same with emotional judgments? Edmund Rogers is about to learn there’s a big difference.
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