I’ve never been opposed to tiny spaces. I like the cozy feeling of being cocooned in a protective shell. I’m even willing to admit that there have been times in my life when I have fantasized about sleeping in a coffin. No, not because of my weird goth phase, but because I like the feeling of being stuffed into a box. I’m not sure how far back my claustrophilia goes, or if it’s related to some sort of tragic exposure event in my youth. I do know that I’ve done it for a long time. I mean, as far back as I can remember. These days, a blanket cocoon is usually enough to get a good night’s sleep, but every once-in-a-while, when I’m feeling exceptionally exposed, I hunker down between the bed and the wall, piled with blankets and pillows. There was a time, though, when even that wasn’t enough and I had to go looking for something more stable.
Under the Sink
Like most kids, I built pillow forts. Unlike most kids, I built them exactly large enough to hide me. I think part of me truly believed that I was invisible to the outside world and no one knew where I had gone. I didn’t build my forts so that I could spy on people from cover, either. I wanted to disappear completely. I guess, in a way, I have always been drawn to the eremitic lifestyle of social isolation. I would have spent my entire life in one of those forts if my parents had let me. I loved them.
Sooner or later, someone would force me out of hiding to clean my room, or play with my cousins, or to stop taking up the entire couch. The problem with cushion forts is that they are not particularly adept at holding against a siege. If the outside world wants to get in, it is going to get in. It made it almost impossible to ever fall asleep inside one of my wonderful, cozy, warm, safe forts. I felt that I really should be sleeping somewhere that the world couldn’t see me. If I was just laying in a bed, any bogey monster would just wonder in and gobble me up. I started making plans to find a better place to sleep than just in bed.
The bathroom across the hall from my bedroom had a huge sink basin and plenty of unused cabinet space. Since nobody takes a shower in the middle of the night, I figured there would be no reason for anyone to ever go looking in those cabinets until in the morning. It was just big enough for me to fit in, dark, warm, and best of all, there was absolutely no way anyone would know I was there from the outside.
It was perfect.
One night, when I was feeling particularly exposed and unable to sleep, I grabbed my pillow and my blanket and crept across the hallway. I stuffed myself into the cabinet, cocooned in my blanket as an extra layer of protection, and went to sleep. It wasn’t the most comfortable place to sleep, but, curled up in a ball of pillow and blanket, I felt more secure than I had ever felt in my life. It was exactly what I was hoping it would be, so I lay there until I was sawing logs like a pro.
At some point, someone came in and used the bathroom. The presence woke me up, and I got really scared I was going to get in trouble for being out of bed. I waited until I heard them leave, and crawled out of the sink and crept back to bed, where I pretty much fell asleep immediately.
Over the next few months I would hide away under the bathroom sink when I felt like getting away from my family. I tried sleeping there a couple more times, but was always afraid I would get in trouble if I didn’t wake up and move back before the rest of my family was up.
I eventually out grew hiding under the sink. No, I literally outgrew it. I would never have stopped if I hadn’t gotten to big to fit. The instinct to find somewhere dark and hidden never left me. I still scout potential hidey-holes when I get to a new place. It just makes me feel more comfortable. Of course, these days, I have to do a lot more searching. I just don’t fit everywhere I used to.