Y’all, I have some history with small, secret, enclosed spaces. I did not have an ideal childhood, which I think kicked off the fascination. My larger world was chaotic, cluttered, dangerous, and all too often roach-wrecked. Did you know it’s super not normal to wake up with roaches on your face? I didn’t.
Anyway. Hidey spaces.
Since I was, say, seven, I’ve created or carved out little personal spaces. I had a treehouse, as country boys will, but I also constructed what amounted to a junk fort in my family’s hoarded attic as a teenager. I found what amounted to a crawlspace behind the wood paneling in my childhood closet and hid in there with a flashlight to read. The closet was not deep enough for me. I needed a sub-closet.
I loved tents, treehouses, little clay overhangs in dried out creeks, big cement drainage pipes, burnt out abandoned cars, everything you could count as a compact space apart from the world at large. Now, I didn’t make the connection between my chaotic life and my drive to find hiding places until well into adulthood.
Until this year.
Until bed tent.
See, this started because my room is the absolute coldest, draftiest one in the house I share. A late addition to the first floor, it shares three of its four walls with the outdoors and has next to no insulation. Every single seam in it has at least one crack that whistles cold air. In the winter, it’s properly miserable. Draft-blocking drapes only do so much.
This year, I’d had enough. Enough dressing for October indoors and sleeping under a mound of blankets with a microwaves rice sock held close. Enough curling up like the saddest larva inside a cotton and polyester pupa. Enough not taking books to bed because my hands freeze holding them upright.
I needed a solution, and the internet had it: Why not just put a cute little tent over your bed, let it trap your body heat, and stay cozy that way? That might sound absurd, but in some places it’s been a Thing for at least a couple years now.
The model I finally chose comes from a Korean company called TQUAD, and frankly it’s everything I wanted (a tent that goes over my bed and keeps me warm and doesn’t collapse) and so much more.
On the most basic level: It doesn’t get humid inside. There’s a mesh opening up top like the chimney in a snow hut that allows the humidity from breath to escape into the room. It’s never, ever felt muggy or stifling inside.
On a more advanced level, it has interior pockets for things like cellphones and tablets. This includes a clear pouch you can suspend from little rings in the tent to use your tablet as a little improvised television. You can see me demonstrating it with Monster Factory and my Kindle Fire up top. There’s also a gap in the very top of the tent for dropping in a little extension cord, loops along the inside through which you can feed cords for better management thereof, and two little ‘windows’ you can open up to ventilate the tent.
Which you’ll do, sometimes, because the tent does get warm! Really splendidly warm, so warm I sleep in shorts with one blanket some nights.
But I don’t love bed tent just because I can sleep warm in it. I love bed tent because it’s a lovely little pocket away from everything. Bed tent is small, and secret, and safe. I understand that the secrecy and safety are illusory, but that doesn’t change the emotional impact being in there has on me.
Let me be real for a second: Ever since I was 10 years old, I’ve needed earphones. At around the time my homelife’s chaos built to unmanageable levels, I developed a downright pathological need to wall out the world’s audio stimulus. Certain voices, clanking glassware, loud thumps, footsteps, they made me jumpy and edgy. They made my heightened vigilance that much worse, and if I could moderate that reaction by continually flipping over the same Iron Maiden and RUSH tapes over and over then by God I would do that.
Didn’t connect that with trauma until years later, either. Yeah, I’d been wearing earbuds – and killing them with overuse with in a week, generally – at all times, pretty much, for something like twenty years.
“Oh, I just like having background music.”
“It makes it easier to concentrate if I have a wall of noise to ignore.”
No, it was (and is) one hundred percent me needing to not hear the world because the world spent too much time freaking me out too hard and I don’t want to deal with that.
I’m not wearing earphones now.
In the weeks since I got the bed tent, I want them less. When I’m in the bed tent, I don’t want them at all! When I want to watch or listen to stuff late at night and politeness dictates I use them it feels like an uncomfortable and crappy compromise.
The bed tent, being not much more than a synthetic fiber bubble over a twin size bed, is giving me back some of my patience with the world. It’s this beautiful little chill-out space to which I can retreat when I’m feeling overwhelmed.
Most people just need a room, their room, but mine was never Safe. It was never mine. That the people I live with now don’t just walk into my room and rearrange/take my things is a marvel to me because I’d never experienced that before. I locked my bedroom door every time I exited it for years after moving away.
I won’t always need bed tent and other spaces like it, not now that I’ve realized why I’m drawn to them, but I’ll always like them.