During my childhood, I was sometimes tortured by having to go to bed, even when I didn’t want to go to bed. It was frightfully hard for me to go to sleep sometimes. Lying there all tucked in, my eyes would roam the walls of the room, and I would huff and sigh, turn over, and sometimes creep out of my bed to tiptoe to the door that had been left a little ajar. From here I had a view of the hallway leading in to the living room. The television was usually turned down low and turning my ear toward the opening, I would catch waves of dialogue or some muffled audience laughter, or perhaps hear snippets of Johnny Carson while he was doing his nighttime monologue. As I stood there, I tried to make sure I was not breathing too hard for fear of being discovered.
Some evenings instead of the television set being on, I would hear music playing on my Daddy’s Hi-Fi Stereo, musical clinks of glasses being toasted and see the shadows of my parents as they danced near the hallway. I liked it when they danced, and I imagined Daddy picking me up to dance me about the room, while Mother watched delightedly. I was known for squiggling in-between their legs, until I forced them to let me enter their inner circle. From this vantage point, it wasn’t long before I was lifted up and held between these two people I loved so dearly. They did pamper me a lot because I was their last child. There would be no more after little Theresa. Four was the total amount of children in our family. Back then four children was considered small.
When we lived in Miami, our next door neighbors had eight children and their pretty young mother was carrying another sibling by the time we moved to the Washington, DC area. The parents decided on Bethesda, MD and we lived in a townhouse, way up at the very top of Pook’s Hill. I’ve always loved that name. There is a book titled “The Puck of Pook’s Hill”, which I told myself I would one day read (I was nine when I decided this), but I never have. Could be I’ll find a copy of it one day and do just that. You never know. But while we lived here I would do my best to be allowed to fall asleep on the sofa while the television played, and they either carried me to bed, or shook me awake and walked this stumbling girl to her bedroom. I just wanted to be close to my parents, because with the two of them working and school and playing and pretending to do the homework I hated, I just wanted to feel that tremendous love they showered upon me.
Whenever I hear certain old television clips or movie snippets or a familiar jazz song, it takes me back to the times when bedtime was a necessary routine, proper for a young child. And also back to those times when I peered through the crack in the doorway just to catch a glimpse of two people in love.