There are nine pillows in my house. I counted them. I can't honestly tell you where they all came from and I'm not sure I can give you the content either but I do know the origin of the first four and I'm fairly certain I can pick them out. I can tell you where they were purchased, when, the circumstances, and for how much. Like I said, the other five, not so much but it makes sense that we'd have at least another three because there were/are children and for quite some time all four of those of the pillows I can identify were on my bed.
Maybe when I was nineteen, maybe I was twenty but certainly before I married Joe (although it was close) I was at Macy's in the Stamford mall because my friend Beth sent me there. She said, 'Macy's is having the best sale you will see in your lifetime on pillows so you'd better go now. Buy as many as you can afford to store in your little house in the woods; borrow money if you have to because pillows eventually wear out.'
Pillows wear out? Really? How is that possible?
I went to Macy's and purchased two rather large down pillows for $5 each in either 1983 or 1984. I believe they retailed for $55 or $65 each. I'm not exactly certain because I was hyperventilating. I did not buy more because I did not need more and I did not believe pillows wore out and that I might have children needing pillows wasn't registering and besides, $10 was about the extent of my monthly discretionary income. However, my soon to be husband was still irate. We had two perfectly good floppy old synthetic things which probably predated at least me. I snarled and threw them on the bed. This was before I hurt my neck so the density of the damn things didn't bother me a bit.
Fast forward to 1998 and my one pillow which only I have used is no longer quite so dense and between then and now I have significantly damaged my neck and went through a period of time when I actually traveled with that pillow to avoid having to sleep on hotel pillows. This was back when you could carry a pillow on board a plane and not have it ripped from your hands and thrown onto the runway. In 1998 my soon to be second husband moved into my apartment in Stamford and we went to Macy's for sheets and towels because I was sorely lacking. Now here's the thing about my apartment. I had the marital bed. It makes sense that I had the marital bed. It was my great aunt's bed, maybe that was great, great aunt now that I think about it and I'm fairly certain the mattress was mine. Why I took both down pillows is beyond me but I did. We wandered toward pillows having gathered sheets and towels at a reasonably decent white sale and looked at down pillows at a reasonably decent pillow sale. A 50% sale is a very decent sort of sale but it's not 90%. I still had this 90% expectation and I think I'd probably been browsing Macy's basement for a stupid number of years just sort of glancing toward the pillow section hoping for a repeat, just in case.
We bought two pillows anyway. Two pillows for a new relationship.
When we got home with the loot we made up the bed and switched out the pillows. We decided to leave the old pillows on the bed just because and put on extra cases which just happened to be a slightly different shade of the same color. When I got into bed that night and put my head on the new pillow I was horrified. Crap! This is just like the hotel pillows! It's too big and my neck hurts. I swapped it out for my old pillow. Much better. When we made the bed in the morning the old pillows ended up at the bottom and the new pillows got tossed to the floor which is how my new husband came to sleep on the old husband's pillow. We, most likely he, didn't think a thing of it. A pillow is a pillow and all that. Unless you're me.
Fast forward to 2003 (Yeah, that was a quickie but he's still around and we're raising a lovely not so little girl together so there's that) and the guy I'll eventually marry in 2005 who will leave at the end of 2008 (that one was REALLY fast) falls into my bed and onto pillow on the left side of the bed without a thought (because the left side of the bed and the pillow on the left side of the bed happen to be the only side and the only pillow available). At this point I don't think about it other than to be very clear that my pillow is my pillow and it is not his. Also between 1984 or 1985 and 2003 my pillow got a lot smaller than the other three. I suspect the other three of rotating quite honestly. None of these guys seemed to have pillow attachments and none of these guys seemed to have noticed other guy, um, guyness associated with these pillows. Guys are funny. Or I'm funny. Or something.
Notice I didn't bother buying new pillows for the 2003 relationship. I was pillowed out. Sheets and towels, you can never have enough of those (not true, I did eventually hit my max).
Fast forward again to 2013 and this other guy's head hits my bed about twice a month and he's on the left side of the bed, same pillow, same deal and my pillow's getting smaller and my neck still hurts and when I'm at his place my pillow comes with me because it's beginning to resemble a dish towel and if I can't have my dish towel I'd just as well do without. Once, at least once I left my pillow behind and slept without for four full nights. It was fine. I was no longer pillow dependent in any way.
Some nights my dish towel is too much and I toss it to the other side of the bed and maybe after a few hours I want it back and I fumble around making sure I have the right pillow (because god help me if I end up with one of the guys' pillows, I'll wake up forty minutes later with a migraine starting at the base of my skull). I have a white silk pillow case, two of them actually (because you can't just buy one of the damn things) because my hair breaks so easily (and this actually makes a freaking difference) so there's really not a problem telling the difference in the dark, not that there's a problem given the size difference but if you're sleepy and easily confused this should help. I grabbed the silky, white pillow and stuck it under my head.
Is that the base of my neck or the pillow?
I sat up and turned the light on.
I pulled the case back and unzipped the inner case. Old stripped ticking. OK, that looks right. I'm still not certain. I grabbed the smaller of the two guy pillows on the left side of the bed. One old stripped ticking that matched and one newer white. OK, this is my pillow. Why is it crackling? I took it all the way out of both cases (it's 3 AM) and squished it this way and that. Eventually I got what I was looking for, pin feathers started poking through the pillow.
Except they weren't feathers anymore, they were just the pins. All the feathery parts appeared to be AWOL. Well shit. Is this how pillows finally die? All the feather parts escape and you're left with nothing but sticks? It's only been thirty-something years and now I have to break in a new pillow which is also apparently only going to last thirty-something years and by the time I have to break in the third pillow I'm going to be damn cranky about this shit. I will not have to break in a fourth. I will be dead. D. E. D. Dead.
I put the snap, crackle, pop pillow back into its cases, lay it back on the bed, turn out the light and put my head down. Crackle. I decide I can live with this if I don't move too much. I roll over onto my left side (crackle) and look at the pile of two big pillows. I gather them into my arms (crackle) and breathe in the smell of gone husbands and lovers who came and went without so much as noticing each other. I think about buying new pillows but can't figure out why I'd bother.