I’ve slept on the ground a lot lately.

In April, after visiting UCSD, I took the train up the coast since I was flying out from LAX. I had the intention of meeting up with my cousin (this was a Friday night after all), but a 5.1 magnitude earthquake hit La Habre while my train was coasting through and caused an extensive unanticipated delay. Worse thing was, since I was on a train, I didn’t even feel it. By the time I arrived at Union Station LA, my flight was about two hours away and I had to bus out to the airport. It was after 4 AM and I joined a small number of comrades curled up on the marble ledges for a quick snooze.

In late May, I hobbled up to Keene in New Hampshire for a quick meetup with Soo over Memorial Day weekend. After the bartend at a cute little place called Twenty One (I should have known) dosed me with what must have been a whole fifth of Beefeater (with a lemon rind thrown in for effect), I decided to forego the drive back to Soo’s place and the two of us camped out on her friend’s floor. It was all very reminiscent of childhood sleepovers: greasy food, gossip and all.

And just yesterday, after a few days with a crick in my back, my solution was once again to take to the hardwood.

When I was an infant, my grandmother made me pillows stuffed with hard filling. I’m not sure what it was, some mix of wheat bran or beads. Much to my mother’s ire, sleeping on this solid surface misshapened my occipital skull, and to this day, the back of my head is rather flat. My preference for sleeping on my back is therefore predestined, born out of the desire to minimize energy expenditure during sleep. I speculate that this penchant for back-sleeping is what makes the floor so appealing to me. After all, those several months I spent in China sleeping on an antique wood bed (sort of like these, though I’m not sure why they’re called opium beds on this site) were some of the best for my back: no aches or complaints, no waking up with awkward neck cricks.

But there is something rather juvenile about these actions now. Now, waking up on the floor means I probably stayed out a bit too late, drank a little bit too much, or am in the midst of another horrible leg of some travel itinerary. Haven’t I outgrown this yet? I can already imagine my TCM friends worrying over me, something about those chills you get from the floor, and how even though I’m not feeling it now, these poor choices will come to bite me in the future when I am aging and feeble. What can I do but shrug? We all pick where we give and take, and at least for now, there’s something rather pleasant and nostalgic about the whole transaction. Maybe when we get under-floor heating everywhere, even my more worry-prone friends will be placated.

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