Pillow Flipping

The following post was written by my friend, Catherine Close, and it totally hit home for me because A. We're staying with my parents all week and they have no AC and B. My cousin, Erica, and I grew up doing this back scratch thing during sleepovers (which were constant because we lived so close to one another) where we'd scratch each other's backs and then vote on which scratch was the BEST scratch and now I miss my cousin and all of those hot summer nights I've always cursed as an adult because ITS' SO HOT AND I'M SO SWEATY AND BLEEEHHHHH. 

Except here's the thing about discomfort: in retrospect it makes for great storytelling. Perfect moments are mostly forgotten. It's the complicated making-the-best-of-humid-nights stuff that lives on in the psyche. A childhood without spooks and ghosts and scars and pillow flipping is a deprivation. And on the days when I wish the kids had their own rooms or better adventures to far away lands, I really must remind myself that THIS is enough -- pajamas until noon and spilled cereal all over the floor and making forts out of duvets. 

Life doesn't have to be exotic or even comfortable to be magical and beloved. Magic is in the moments. Thanks for the reminder, Catherine. xo
Last night was a pillow flipping night. I learned this skill as child growing up in San Bernardino. We didn’t have air conditioning. We had a swamp cooler, a big old metal box attached to one of the windows in the bedroom I shared with my sister Suzy. The swamp cooler worked – or didn’t – by circulating water-cooled air through our room. I don’t remember it offering us any relief from the sweltering San Bernardino summer nights. Flipping our pillows did.

Perspiration and heat create an adhesive affect.  In peeling the pillow from your face and deftly turning it, you have a cool, fresh side, a new start on a summer night.  I love a new start, and to have one every half hour…well, you can’t beat that.

The trick to pillow flipping is to remain in a dream state. Try not to wake fully. Hang on to tail end of your dream as if it were the tail of a kite and let it pull you away into the evening skies.

Unless you have a pillow-flipping partner, then you might waken for a while.  I don’t, and I’ll admit it. I’m lonely.  These summer nights when I awake to turn my pillow from the damp, warm side to the cool, I’m reminded of waking across the room from Suzy.  

“Hey Suzy,” I’d whisper, “Are you awake?”
“Yeah,” she’d whisper.
“Do you want to play the game?”

Suzy would come over, crawl into my bed, and lie on her stomach. Then, using my pointer finger, I would lightly draw pictures on her back, and she would guess what I had drawn.

“A tree?”
“A mountain?"
“Guess again.”
“A flower?”
“Give up?"
“I guess so.”
“The Eiffel Tower.”
“What’s that?”
“You know. It’s that famous place in Paris.”
“That’s not fair, Catherine. We haven’t been there."
“We haven’t been anywhere. So, what?”

Today, I live in an area with families that take one-month vacations to Europe. Most of the kids I know have their own bedrooms. Their homes have central air conditioning. I’m not by nature nostalgic. I don’t long for the good old days. I don’t feel that any bygone era is superior to this one.  I do know, though, that those nights I shared with my sister Suzy will stay with me forever. Whispering in the dark, drawing on each other’s backs, becoming forever friends, makes a hot summer night just a little more bearable.