In Bed With Keith Kopka

Many of my bedroom rituals were formed when I was a kid, and, like many other people I know, my bedroom became my inner sanctum, a place of my own in a house full of people who just didn’t understand how they were systematically ruining my life. Each day after school, I’d run upstairs, lock my door, and lay in bed for hours with my headphones on. I’d turn the music up loud enough to ignore everything outside of my small fiefdom until someone yelled at the top of their lungs so that I knew it was time for the life-ruiners to feed me again.

A bedroom can give us a very important illusion of independence.

This type of escapism continued through college where, time and time again, I would use my bedroom to barricade myself from drunken roommates or any of the other sketchy characters that somehow always seemed to make their way into my apartment. I still remember the palpable feeling of relief when I closed my door on the sounds of someone throwing up, someone fighting, dishes breaking, or even the drugged out strippers burning a pizza in my oven while a bunch of people I barely knew chanted “PI-ZZAH! PI-ZZAH! PI-ZZAH!”

Now, looking at my bedroom, I realize how little time I actually spend in it.  When I’m sick, I let myself have a day in bed, but, generally speaking, when I get out from under the covers in the morning, I don’t get back under until I’m going to sleep at night. Maybe this has something to do with the fact that I’m now able to live alone, and that the inescapable loneliness that is human existence is much more tangible in an empty bedroom than it is in an office or in the living room in front of the TV. But I don’t think I actually believe that.

The inescapable loneliness is, in fact, everywhere.

I think it actually has more to do with what we convince ourselves of as we move towards that bright light that turns out to be the bug zapper we call “adulthood.” I’ve been taught that I can’t spend the day in bed and be a productive member of society— that if I am spending time in bed then I’m up to no good. Well, as poets, aren’t we always trying to get up to no good, or, at the very least, trying to wake people up and then crawl under the blankets with them? If we didn’t have this impulse, I don’t think that we would find ourselves writing poetry.

So, if you’re reading this and if any of it sounds true or at least familiar, I challenge you to get into bed as soon as possible.

Turn off your phone. Disappear. Let the world know who is boss. Try to remind yourself that it doesn’t matter what’s happening outside of this small place that comforts you. Stop lying to yourself. Everything you have to do can wait until tomorrow. Isn’t that what most poems are asking us to believe anyway?

Actually, I don’t care what you do. I’m going to bed.

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