Thursday, May 17, 2012

And Beyond

A few years ago, the Linens ‘n Things chain store departed our frenetically busy mall area, leaving the residents of Clarksville bereft of a store specializing linens for the table, bedroom and bathroom, along with the host of other (overpriced)  items carried there, like pillows, kitchen gadgets and small appliances. The store was usually its busiest during the big sales, which were the only times the pricing made any sense. Now, if they had asked me, I would have recommended they skip the inflated daily prices and carry everything at levels closer to the sale prices. Maybe then the store might not have closed. But what do I know? I’m just an opinionated  consumer on a budget.

After a stretch of being limited to Target, two Kmarts and three WalMarts in search of household necessities like sheets and towels, there was news that Bed Bath & Beyond was coming to town. This seemed exciting – once again, there would be a store providing one-stop shopping for the stuff I actually sometimes need – like sheet sets and comforters, bath towels and shower curtains and the occasional mixing bowl or pizza wheel.

As a resident of a fully (over)furnished home who hates to shop, I don’t even know when the store actually opened, but I remember receiving a catalog in the fall of 2011 when I was spending my days on the couch, mending my leg that enjoyed a compound fracture of the tibia and fibula while playing roller derby. Perhaps ‘enjoyed’ is the wrong word. With the exception of the dreamy, floaty feeling from the lovely drugs I was given in the hospital, there was little that was enjoyable about it. Physical therapy began almost immediately, work followed rather quickly, and I never even had a chance to get bored. I juggled part-time work from my new home office (a.k.a the couch) beginning the third week after it happened. The pain medicine made me tired, and I spent most of my waking time balancing a laptop on my thighs and taking (sometimes long-winded) business calls on my cell phone, forcing me to increase the minutes in my calling plan to avoid the hefty 40-cent per minute overage penalty.

None of this matched my mental image of convalescence. Wasn’t I supposed to wearing a satin bed jacket, propped up by puffy pillows in a bed outfitted in linens that complemented my skin tones as I lingered over books and writing, with pauses to nap as sunlight streamed through my crystal clear, immaculate windows? What sort of injury earns that recuperation program? And where can I get some beautiful bed linens that will give me a rosy glow worthy of a magazine spread? Perhaps our new Bed Bath & Beyond?

The first week out of the hospital bore the closest resemblance to my Victorian convalescence fantasy – that’s when I was staying at the home of my derby wife / buddy / angel-in-waiting Devlin D Flesh, with my busted leg propped high on a stack of towels, alternating between the couch and her youngest son’s bedroom. Instead of a lovely and feminine satin robe, I was mostly outfitted in red capri yoga pants and a black hoodie borrowed from my hostess. She was great company and we watched recorded TV shows and chatted and ate lovely lunches. People visited bearing homemade brownies and she shuttled me to the doctor’s office and then one day it was time to go back to my own home. The doctor had told me I would know when the time was right, and sure enough, one day it was suddenly the day.

Back home, instead of lounging in bed reading, the days involved waking up and doing therapy exercises in bed, hobbling to the kitchen to feed Moose and myself, then hobbling to the couch to fire up the company laptop, clock in and start working. Miraculously, Moose’s temperament had tamed to match my own new, low-energy state and he spent a lot of time on the couch with me. After four hours of remote desktop labor, there was an hour to take care of important business (also known as “watch old episodes of Project Runway”), before hobbling to the door to let in the physical therapist and spend an hour on therapy. Then, suddenly, it was suppertime, followed quite closely by bedtime, which was now several hours earlier than the glorious and active pre-fracture days due to the sleep-inducing properties of the pain meds and energy drain of healing.

This was the rhythm of the days for the next month, punctuated by daily visits from bona fide, genuine angels disguised as Red River Sirens teammates, co-workers and friends who would take time from their own schedules to bring me lunches, dinner, and groceries,  handle chores I couldn’t physically deal with and visit. They were the bright spots in the dark stretch of being broken and working-from-home. I wasn’t looking forward to returning to work at the office, because leaving the house was cumbersome with a walker and the graduation to crutches was not much better. Moving around took ten times longer and required immense amounts of energy.

On the day the Bed, Bath & Beyond catalog landed, carried into the house by a helpful lunch visitor to spare me the fearful trip up the pitched driveway with a walker, I opened it with excitement, eager to see bed linens and bath towels. Since buying a queen size mattress, I have had only two sets of sheets, which means my options are an endless stretch of schlepping to the basement to launder sheets or sleeping in a grubby bed. More sheet sets in the rotation means the shiny promise of a week or two without washing and folding sheets. (This is also my theory on underpants – the more you own, the less frequently the laundry must be dealt with.)

In my excited journey through the Bed Bath & Beyond circular, it took 14 pages before the first (and only) image of a towel and another couple pages before I found the sole depiction of sheets. The 28-page circular was light on “bed” and “bath” and heavy on the “beyond,” with things like dinnerware, vacuum cleaners and a variety of urgently needed “As Seen On TV” products like the Genie Bra. The latest circular leads with an extensive array of patio furniture.

Consequently, seven months have elapsed since reviewing my first circular and I have still not visited Bed Bath & Beyond. Based on what lands in my mailbox, I’ll probably have better luck finding bedsheets at Tractor Supply Company, which, thanks to their recent frequent rotation of TV commercials, I now know is not actually a tractor showroom. To think I’ve been avoiding the place for years because I didn’t need a tractor, and it turns out I would have been mighty disappointed if I had gone there looking for one. Which is how I think I’ll feel going to Bed Bath & Beyond for sheets and towels and finding everything but.