Back one day on a long road trip, I sat in the driver’s seat, Ty sat shotgun, and Chris sat in the back. We were trucking down a long stretch of highway in silence, just watching the world go by, when out of nowhere Ty suddenly turned to me and said: “Hey, how long have you had your pillow?”
You kind of roll with the random questions on road trips, because if you don’t then you get mighty sick of I Spy and the four mix CDs you brought along pretty quick. So I thought about it for a moment, then said earnestly, “You know, I can’t remember ever not having my pillow. I think I’ve had it for like twenty years or something. It’s completely old, worn-out, flat, and stained, but I’ve had it forever and I can’t find another good, flat pillow like this so I’ll probably keep it until it disintegrates, or I until I lose it or something.”
I thought nothing of it, continuing to stare straight ahead and fiddle with the radio, but Ty stared back at me completely horrified. His jaw dropped, his brain boggled, and he was silent for a minute. “You know,” he said eventually, his eyebrows furrowed in real concern and his head bobbing in little nods, as if convincing himself that despite the severity of the news he was about to deliver, it was important to just get it out, “you’re not supposed to keep any pillow for longer than a year. It’s actually really, really bad for you.”
“Whatever,” I countered, eventually settling on a radio station and continuing to stare out the windshield. “It’s just a pillow.”
“Yeah, that’s the thing,” Ty counter-countered, “It’s not just a pillow at that point. It’s a really dense collection of years of dandruff, dead skin, dust mites, and drool. Seriously, it’s less ‘pillow’ and more ‘your disgusting head’ at that point. It’s full of years of bacteria. Bacteria that’s had a chance to grow and build cities! I swear, I saw it on a website and in the news.”
There was a pause, before I eventually dismissed Ty’s claim with finality. “Pshhhhhh,” I concluded, putting on my sunglasses and turning up the volume on the radio.
Defeated, Ty let it go, preferring to let me suffer the nightmarish consequences of sleeping on my pillow rather than waste any more effort trying to convince me that I needed an upgrade. So we drove on in silence, watching the world go by on that long stretch of highway.
I let it drift away then, let it disappear, but really — the truth is that I just didn’t want to think about it.
No, I didn’t want to contemplate the possibility that I might need to replace my pillow. Because there’s really nothing quite like the comfort provided by your pillow, is there? I’m talking about the one you sleep on every night. The one that has bent and shaped itself around your head, has been fluffed and squished and packed and thrown. It’s a bit yellow, there’s some hair on it, but it just… knows you. It loves you. And it’s been with you for eight hours a day since you can remember.
Yeah, I once heard a stand-up comic describe his pillow as looking like a bandage from the civil war. And mine’s probably at that level, too. I even think of it like a bandage, cradling and caressing my worn-weary head, providing a gentle escape from reality every night from dusk till dawn.
I mean, that’s why I can never really get a good night’s sleep anywhere else unless I take my pillow along. I admit it looks a bit funny walking in the door with a pillow under my arm, but oh well. See, what if I sleep over at your place and you toss me one those flimsy, sack-pillows that feel like they’re stuffed with fifty ripped-up handfuls of industrial-grade Styrofoam? And I’m not taking any chances with the hotel’s puffy, unsupportive cloud-pillows either, or those wacked-out, ergonomic jobs that make your head feel like it’s propped up on a wheelchair ramp.
No, it’s all about your pillow, yours, your pillow. I mean, have you ever tried to switch pillows with someone else one night? It cannot work.
Your pillow’s been there through the highs, the lows, the nightmares, and the tears. You’ve been through a lot together and you know each other so well. So next time you’re planning to crash somewhere? Take your pillow. In exchange for a little less packing space, you’ll get a lot more hours of goodnight comfort and moonlit, subconscious bliss.
And hey, if you don’t believe me?
Sleep on it.