When I was seven or eight, I had a neighborhood friend, Kathleen Dutton, who was the sixth-born in a family of six children. As the first born of a large family, I was fascinated with the idea of having older siblings. I loved spending the night at Kathleen's house where I could witness the life of her teenaged sisters and brother from the sidelines while playing dolls or doing puzzles with my friend. After dinner, everyone gathered in family room to watch TV and visit, and Kathleen and I played off to the side at a little coffee table. Sometime during the evening, Kathleen's British mother brought in a teapot covered with a cozy and scones and butter—yum, yum.
After this treat, Kathleen and I were sent to bed. She shared a bedroom with two other sisters, and I remember the room being mostly beds with a small dresser on one end. I also remember crawling under a heavy pile of blankets that made up Kathleen's bed. I don't remember having lots of blankets on my bed at home, but at Kathleen's getting under the covers was a delicious sensation. I slept next to the wall in her single bed, and I would lie on my back beside my friend and relish the weight of those blankets. Kathleen went right to sleep while I lay listening to the activity in the house: her father arguing with her brother about a misplaced tool and her parents quarreling with their eldest daugther about getting home late from a date. Such household troubles were as unfamiliar to me as the heavy blankets under which I rested.
Soon I would know teen life first hand—a time when my father and brothers argued about tools and I got home late from dates. And eventually, I would know this world as a parent, feeling the frustration and worry that my parents and Kathleen's must have known.
Over the years, I've felt the weight of many different blankets—lightweight electric blankets when they were in vogue and not believed to be unsafe; down comforters also light but holding so much warmth, but to this day, my favorite bed cover is piles of blankets that are weighty and seem to insulate me from life's woes.