Editor's note: We Housekeepers haven't put up any new material in November save for our group reaction to the U.S. presidential election. We have more to share soon, though, and invite you in the meantime to revisit one of the most loved, and most heartbreaking, pieces we've ever run. It's "Sleeping Bags for Two or One" by contributing editor Ashley Nicole Black, with an illustration by Ilana Shabnam. We are proud that it was featured on Elan Morgan's Five Star Mixtape when it first ran.
Sleeping Bags for Two or One
Few people know the proper technique for using sleeping bags. I learned how at an early age. Once you learn, you don’t forget.
You’ll need two sleeping bags, and a best friend. If you don’t have a best friend, I feel sorry for you because best friends are magic. Find one who is kind, likes the same things you do, and has asthma so they’ll stay behind with you to play pretend and tell stories, when the other kids run off to play sports. Go everywhere and do everything together. So that if your best friend died, and someone made a collage for her funeral, they wouldn’t find a single photo of her that didn’t have you in it.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
Open both sleeping bags all the way. Place one on the ground. Place yourself and your best friend on top. Cover yourselves with the second. Cuddle and whisper all night. Bite each other’s shoulders as a joke. Giggle, but quietly, because your babysitter is mean when she’s sleepy. Hold on to your best friend very tight. Because she’s magic, and has great ideas about sleeping bags. And because she’s Black, and lives in a poor neighborhood. So if her asthma ever gets too bad, and the ambulance won’t come to her “dangerous” neighborhood, and she’s brain dead by the time her mother drives her to the hospital, and nobody has the courage to tell you what brain dead means, and you write letters and poems and drawings that nobody will tell you she can’t read, and when they finally tell, you climb into your sleeping bag and pretend to be dead as hard as you can, but no matter how hard you try, you can’t cry yourself to death and join her. That, they’ll tell you. So hold on tight.
Maybe if you hold on tighter. Maybe if you zip the sleeping bags together. Maybe if you spend the rest of your life shouting about injustice, ambulances will show up at little girls’ houses when they’re called.
I recommend two Little Mermaid sleeping bags. Available wherever Disney products are sold.
The text has not been altered, but you can find the original here.