A Canopy Bed

Writing Prompt: What was the one thing that a friend had that you wished you had when you were little? 

I can’t remember ever not wanting to have a canopy bed. From the moment I laid eyes on the very first one I ever saw, I wanted one.

Desperately.

I wasn’t a foofy girl growing up but I sure wanted a foofy canopy bed.

It reeked of femininity (something I lacked as a young girl) and somehow I felt that owning one would make me pretty, and I so wanted to be pretty. The girls I knew who had canopy beds were more poised and graceful and I was convinced it was because sleeping in a bed fit for a queen turned you into a princess overnight. If I had a canopy bed, I was certain the feminine qualities I lacked would miraculously materialize – as if by osmosis – and I would be transformed into a beautifully poised and graceful princess.

Or at least I would no longer be the lanky, awkward girl that I actually was.

My mother probably thought it was some fanciful phase I would grow out of but I didn’t. I never stopped wanting a canopy bed. Not ever. The desire to own one followed me through my childhood. It was a dream never realized, a longing never fulfilled.

That beautiful canopy bed I wanted looked something like this:

Years later, when I was married, my husband built me a canopy bed out of some plans he found in a Home magazine. His creation didn’t look anything like the picture but I appreciated the effort. The canopy was not billowing pink ruffled material, but a green dust ruffle stapled on top that was always crooked. The center of the dust ruffle always drooped down so he added beams across that he neglected to stain to match the rest of the bed. It lacked continuity and I was not decorating savvy enough to fix the blemishes. He most likely used treated wood (even though he assured me he didn’t) and that probably shaved years off our life.

The plans for the bed my husband built looked something like this:

QCanopyCoverwww.thedesignconfidential.com

I might not have felt like a princess in the bed my husband built but that bed was full of memories. It’s the bed in which all three of my children were created. It’s the bed my children slept in when they were first born when I was too tired to get up in the middle of the night and pluck them from their cribs. It’s the bed where I straddled my toddler when he had pink eye and I had to put drops in his eyes. It’s the bed the kids came flying into on Christmas morning to demand it was time to wake up and see what Santa brought even though the sun hadn’t even woken up yet.  It’s the bed where I sobbed after I had my first miscarriage…and then my second. It’s the bed my son sat on when he had something important to say after a hard day at school. It’s the bed my children would crawl into in the middle of the night when they had a bad dream or they were sick. It’s the bed my children would jump on for hours singing about little monkeys. It’s the bed I slept in while my husband slept downstairs on the couch when things started to crumble between us.

Like our marriage, the canopy bed my husband built wasn’t strong enough to last. It was unable to endure all that we put it through. It wasn’t meant to be repeatedly taken apart and put back together again so by the time we moved into our fifth house, it was finally time to accept the days of lying under a crooked dust ruffle were over.

But at least I can say I once had a canopy bed.

The Case of the Vanishing Childhood

Hands down, Nancy Drew had the coolest job EVER.

And it wasn’t even really a job. I mean, it’s not like she got paid for it, right?

scarletslipper1aNancy Drew got to hang out with her best friends and hunky boyfriend, Nick Nickerson, while searching for clues that would ultimately lead her to solve some baffling mystery that had left everyone else in River Heights perplexed.

Growing up, my best friend and I read ALL the Nancy Drew mysteries. From the very first page, we decided that we were going to have a future in sleuthing. We would pretend we were the characters from the books and assign titles to every suspicious activity we encountered. The Mystery of the Fallen Tree. The Secret of the Broken Clock. The Key to the Missing Mailbox.

When it came to assigning parts, I, of course, got to be Nancy Drew because I was the bossy one. It doesn’t take a degree in criminology to know it’s the bossy friend who gets what she wants because no one wants to deal with the repercussions if she doesn’t. My best friend got to be Nancy Drew’s dark-haired, tomboy sidekick, George Fayne, despite the fact that I was the one with the dark hair. (Neither of us wanted to be Bess Marvin because she was always described as “slightly plump”. Plus, let’s face it. Bess was not as savvy at sleuthing as Nancy and George).

We established our own club, the Cub Club Detective Agency (we collected teddy bears on the side), of which we were theblackwood2a sole members. We spent hours sketching out plans for a clubhouse that never came to fruition. We would invent mysteries out of thin air. Everyone was a suspect, including Inky the cat who had suspicious spots. We had notebooks and brief cases and fantastical ideas. We had badges and Morse code detectors. We even had a theme song! We used to make commercials on cassette tapes, advertising our amazing ability to solve crimes. Playing detectives kept us occupied for hours. It was our perpetual playground and we lived in it 24/7.

When the Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew television series starring Pamela Sue Martin emerged, we were right there watching it. Nancy Drew Hardy BoysWe huddled on the couch of the little house where she and her mom lived and watched it on their little black and white TV (cable wasn’t available where I lived and all my bossiness couldn’t get me a signal without it). We were mesmerized by the handsome Hardy boys and immediately tossed our imaginary River Heights boyfriends aside. We decided the Hardy boys had much more in common with us because they were, after all, just as passionate about solving mysteries as we were. (Wanna take a stab at who got Shaun Cassidy for a boyfriend? I justified it by claiming Shaun Cassidy was the star of the Hardy Boys and since Nancy Drew was the star of the series, it was arguably a logical partnership. Oh, and yeah. I was the bossy one.)

BionicwomanWe didn’t limit ourselves to merely G rated characters from books. We were in the business of solving mysteries and whatever tools we needed to adopt to make that happen we were happy to incorporate. We gave ourselves bionic powers and ran around the neighborhood in slow motion searching for clues. Like Jamie Sommers, we swept our hair back behind our right ear, which allowed us to be privy to conversations out of hearing range. (I let my best friend have the Six Million Dollar Man for a boyfriend. It only seemed fair).

Charlie’s Angels empowered us. We realized we could be detectives AND be pretty. No longer did we have to rely merely onCharlie's Angels our sleuth savviness — we could be fashionable too! Our feathered hair would blow in the wind as we rode around on our skateboards searching for clues. We investigated every inch of our community for evidence of injustice in an effort to make Charlie proud. (As my bossy fate would have it, my brown hair meant I never got to be the most beautiful angel of them all, Farrah Fawcett. Karma gave me the option of choosing between Kate Jackson and Jaclyn Smith instead.)

My best friend and I thought growing up and becoming detectives would be the coolest thing ever.

But we didn’t grow up and become detectives.

We just grew up. And when we did, our childhood vanished.

My best friend ended up moving away and it’s no mystery that things were never the same. We still got together but geography put a damper on our creativity and the time we spent together became few and far between. Our plans to become partners in solving crime, that we had spent our collective childhood preparing for, had begun to fade. Eventually, the doors of the Cub Club Detective Agency closed once and for all.
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I recently came across this unrecognizable stamp that once had our names etched on it along with Cub Club Detective Agency and the address where the clubhouse would have been. It brought a smile to my face.

It turns out my childhood hasn’t vanished at all. It’s right here in my heart where it belongs.