Fresh Linens

I just bought some new sheets. They’re nothing particularly exotic, just some 400 TC cotton sheets that were on sale at I don’t buy sheets very often, though, and this purchase seems important.

Decades ago, when I moved out of my parents’ house, my grandmother gave me a tall stack of sheets of varied sizes and vintage. Even though I was making over three dollars an hour and felt downright wealthy, I had been raised in a frugal household and believed strongly in “waste not, want not.” I’m pretty careful with my laundry and don’t otherwise stress my linens too much, so the (already old) sheets lasted well over another decade. I bought some special waterbed sheets in the late 70’s, but pretty much lived with the hand-me-downs until the late 1980’s.

By then I really was financially comfortable, but still did not believe in indulgences. I was sleeping on an inexpensive futon that also doubled as a couch in my 600 square foot cottage in San Diego. I was hanging out the last of the remaining ancient sheets and noticed that they all had transparent spots, and resolved to buy a new set.

The sheets I bought were plain white cotton with thin satin piping near the top. I bought two flat sheets, since I generally dislike fitted sheets (they never fit tightly enough and are a pain to fold). I had to make the bed back into a couch every morning, so I would carefully fold the sheets along the still-visible original folds every day. Probably owing to the fact that I didn’t have a dryer so line-dried everything, I preserved the original folds for a year or more until I finally got a real sofa and relegated the futon to full-time bed status.

Even though I had lived on my own for a long time when I bought those sheets, it somehow felt like a watershed event. Looking back, I realize that it was a time of transition for me, as I had recently made the decision to return to school and become a physician. Buying brand-new sheets seemed an affirmation that I was walking on a solid path.

The intervening years have seen me get an undergraduate degree, finish medical school, get married, finish a double residency, and have my first child. I’ve gotten several sets of sheets as gifts. I even bought a white-on-white sateen set once, but somehow it wasn’t anything special. This new set, though, is going to be all mine. It somehow feels as special as that first set. They are a luscious lemony green, smooth and cool. I am filled with a mystic sense of wonder at the slumber they will likely support for the next decade or two.

Sweet dreams.

RonRisley – 28 Apr 2005