I have cold, and can’t really sleep lying down. I don’t make a very good sick person, and like to sleep when I know I’m not missing anything. I also remember all my dreams and feel sad if I don’t get to have any.
On Sunday night, I couldn’t sleep at all. As the pillows crept further and further up the headboard, I knew this was a battle I would not win. I reached for the toilet roll I’d been using to blow my nose every five minutes, and realised I’d run out. I went into the bathroom to get more, and actually fell asleep on the toilet, mid-sneeze.
This was not, however, the first time I found myself sleeping in a bathroom. The first time was at the end of my second trip to Paris. My reason for the trip doesn’t bear repeating, except to say that the whole experience was so very strange that I’m not surprised it ended in a toilet.
A friend and I had taken the bus from Paris to the airport to catch our early flight home the next day. We’d slept in the airport before the flight out a week before. I’d always wanted to sleep in an airport before a flight, so we did. And we planned to do it one more time.
I raided the vending machine with the last of my Euros, while my friend pumped up her not actually that conspicuous air mattress.
And then. An announcement over the loud-speaker that ended in: the airport will be closing in fifteen minutes. Surely this was a message for other people and not those of us with early flights the next day. Flights too early for the earliest possible bus. We looked around at other people with the same idea, safe with the thought that this time, the rules did not apply to them, or us.
And then. Security guards came around. Now, I took seven years of French, my French accent is non-existent. But seven years is just enough to understand, and I’m translating now, ‘the airport is closed.’
I was so ready to go home by this point. I wanted to not pass go, not collect 200 Euros and sleep in my own damn bed. My brain was so fried I fumbled to explain that our flight was too early for any buses in the morning, that we were here and we needed to stay. No, we were not a security risk; we were just two twenty-something people who wanted to go home. No, we didn’t plan to break into the tills and steal. We planned to talk and sleep and then go the hell home. Yes, we did know there was a bed and breakfast tantalisingly close. Woefully inaccessible, but close. And its proximity made me feel so much better, merci.
Those other people with the same idea went to the pedestrian bed and breakfast. And we, well, we went to the carpark.
It was July, but it was cold. We wrapped up in everything we had, which for some reason included a tin foil blanket. We obviously knew we’d be sleeping under the stars on our last night.
I was with my best friend from University. We were used to all-nighters. Our friendship was solidified by staying up and talking all night. But with pizza. And chocolate. Indoors. With heaters. And wine.
This was a little ridiculous, even for us. But we kept playing cards and calling the whole thing ‘an experience we’d never forget.’
At about 3 o’clock a groundskeeper presented us with a key to what looked like a shed, but was actually a row of toilet stalls. Since the night couldn’t get any weirder, we stretched out on the tiles. And I mumbled something like, ‘how very appropriate.’
A few hours later, we watched the sunrise from this unlikely vantage point. It’s still one of the best I’ve seen.
We were first in the queue to go home.
I actually slept in my bed last night, and had a dream. This wasn’t it. This actually happened.
When was the last time you slept in a bathroom?