One’s bedtime ceremony is singular. For this boy of 14, the summer of 1991, in a spacious gable front cottage at the foot of a hill in the Presidential range, it was exceptionally great.
The sun flung completely to some foreign glow, and the watery spirits of night tinkering about in the dark of his wood, every other soul in the house in its own private corner of the universe, he became the chief, most distinguished guest of a superlative tranquility that visited only the most peaceful preparers: those prone to a preternatural appreciation for going to bed.
Each task and each item, he encountered with the utmost mindfulness, because for him, it wasn’t about getting things done before bed. He entered into a dance so musical it divined the essences of things, calling onto his window and away from their concerns Athenians, fairies and mechanicals alike. For the object was to let everything have a voice in this prelude to his dream:
White glass wall lamps, all ornate with prominent grape blooms, were carefully set at a medium light, allowing the under-appreciated nooks, as subtle and expressive as a triangle in an orchestra, to make their contribution too. In the window nearest the bed’s oak headboard, he drew the long, white lace curtains just enough to allow for the dreamy, air filtering effect that comes from sheer fabric floating over a twin window fan, channeling a soothing whirl of mountain air.
The embroidered, queen sized, candlewick bedspread provided the perfect setting for a daytime catnap, oft enjoyed by the cat of the house himself. But cat unseen and unheard, it was happily untucked from its pillows, and folded over itself just enough to display a quiet but contemplative paperback novel.
A few other seemingly inessential nothings dealt with in no unappreciated way (some clothes from the day escorted into their respective drawers, pants pocket miscellany upon the bureau, and a towel lifted from a hanger on the back of the door, gently folded over one arm), an inanimate room of things had been given a soul, which itself needed time to get used to things, the same amount of time, coincidentally, that it took to complete some toiletry and take a cool shower.
At last, unsteady, glass doorknob turned for what always seemed like the last time, forever, he plunked himself down on the bed to bask in his own singular presence, before setting the sine qua non of this event in motion. After shutting out the lights, he leaned over and pressed the play button on a small Panasonic radio cassette recorder that had permanently cast within it a singular cassette of indisputable greatness. Alone, that radio barely earned its keep in a heap of curbside trash on a hot Tuesday morning. And all by itself, that tape couldn’t make a sound any better than could a piece of plastic falling off a shelf onto the floor. Together, with just the right audience in place, they might as well have become a musical instrument resembling a lute. Played ever so faintly, its tinkling metal strings would strum their characteristic tremolo in sustained echoes, in harmony with the ethereal song of a siren destined to make even the most solitary of princes dream of heavenly maidens. And so he did.
He would never exactly hear the entire tune, nor would he remember the blue dream in his room the night before. He also never questioned how or why each time he hit play, it was song 3 that was ready to go.