Traveling with a family of four means that there will always be special sleeping arrangements. At hotels, we need a pull-out sofa or an extra bed, and when staying with friends and family, we’ll just have to make do with whatever is there.
If there’s only one king-sized bed, in our family, that means that I will sleep on the floor.
It’s not a big sacrifice for three reasons. One, the one on the floor has the entire floor to himself while the rest of them battle for space in the bed. Two, that’s what The Phantom would do. And three, I can sleep anywhere.
I once fell asleep on a chair in a jewelry store, while waiting for the man to replace the battery in my watch. That takes, what, all of three minutes?
Partly, it’s simply something I was born with. Mom has pretty much never finished watching a movie while lying on a sofa, so the heavy eyelids are a part of my genetic heritage. Also, I’ve always been short, which has made it easy for me to find places to curl up and fall asleep in.
But a lot of it is also due to decades of hard work. I’ve slept in all kinds of cars, first in an era when cars didnt have boosters, or car seats or even seat belts. I would just lie down on the back seat for a bit of a shuteye, listen to Mom and Dad talk in the front, or just think about … stuff.
Seat belts became mandatory in Finland in 1971, Dad was adamantly opposed to it, only pulling it down when he saw a police car. There were jokes about making T-shirts with a black, diagonal stripe across the chest, so it would look like the driver was wearing a seat belt.
But even then, the back seat was a seatbelt free zone. Good for catching some zees.
And a few years later, when my hockey team started to have real road trips, traveling on a bus, I slept either sitting up, with my head bouncing off the window, stretching my legs across the two seats, or, well, just lying on the floor. If the bus arrived at our home rink 2 am, I was ready to go to school at 8.
But the foundation for my ability to sleep anywhere was laid much earlier, when I was just a small boy living in a non-bedroom apartment in downtown Helsinki. The studio apartment had a small kitchenette, but basically everything took place in the 30 square meters we had. That space turned from a kitchen in the morning into a play room into a living room, and into a bedroom.
At one point, I didn’t have a bed. Or, yes, I did, I had the bestest bed in the whole wide world, of course, but it was made out of two chairs facing each other, with a board between them for added length. That’s where I would lie down, and listen to the trams clonk-clonk underneath our window, until I fell asleep.
Sleeping like the baby that I was.