In quest of pillow perfection

I know I’m on the downside of middle age, or at the very least deeply-immersed in middle age, when I choose (or, more accurately, feel obligated) to travel with my pillow.
My mother used to do so, and I must confess I did exercise some judgmental thoughts when she climbed into the car with her pillow in tow.
Her pillow was soft and round, and fit just nicely in the crook of her neck. It was so small, however, that I couldn’t understand why she even bothered to bring it along.
Of course, in those days, my neck was completely flexible and held my head up in the correct position, and the muscles that were involved in said head-holding were supple and strong and fiercely determined.
That’s no longer the case. My neck now wobbles as if it is being held up with peanut butter—the smooth and creamy variety, with not one bit of crunch.
When I’m drifting off to sleep and feel like I am falling, and yank myself back to reality (we’ve all done that–the big pre-sleep jerk), I suffer whiplash. My neck feels paralyzed and I miss my taut neck muscles.
I certainly don’t remember giving them permission to retire.
In the 19 years I lived with my father, he didn’t change his pillow. It was a pillow of the foam variety, a bit flat without square edges. But it was comfortable.
After he died, I carted that pillow around for a good many years, probably too many years, before I gave up and sent the pillow on to its final resting place.
In contrast, I’ve spent a small fortune—the bulk of my nest egg—on what I hoped would turn out to be the best pillow known to humans. I’ve tried memory foam (drained my bank account for that purchase), feathers, hydra (a fancy word for a water pillow), sculpted, and even the pillows on sale for $3.99 each.
You name it, I’ve tried it, and all, without exception, have come up short.
There is nothing special about the way I sleep or the neck that runs between my head and shoulders, yet I cannot find a pillow that allows me to waken without a headache.
I recently stayed in a B&B with gorgeous linens, not to mention the amazing historical features in the home that had braced itself firmly against change. It was a beautiful building, flawlessly maintained.
But (and there always seems to be a but) the pillows on the bed were huge, over-stuffed, and my neck did nothing but complain. I could not sleep and I thought of my mother and her little round soft pillow, and was reminded again just how very smart my mother was.
So my lessons learned, I trudged home (barely able to stay awake at the wheel for the drive) and vowed to never leave home again for a sleep-over of any duration without my pillow.
Except I am still on my quest to find the perfect pillow—a Fountain of Youth Pillow, if you will, that will restore my neck to its much more useful earlier version: let’s say the 1975 model that was firm and strong and determined, devoid of any excess skin and the evidence of gravity.
And while we’re at it, along with that neck I would like the knees and ankles that I used to enjoy, the ones with some bounce to them; and maybe my eyes that used to be able to read labels at the grocery store without using a magnifying glass or a 22-point font.
The thing is there are businesses that specialize in fitting our bikes to our bodies, and certainly there are experts about shoes and how they fit and getting eye glasses to sit just so on our ears and nose.
But for sleep, it seems we are on our own—employing a method of trial and error. You buy a mattress and hope for the best; on something you plan to lie for 15 years or more.
Maybe getting my young neck back isn’t possible, but I’ll keep searching for the pillow. If you have any tips, be sure to share them with me.
wendistewart@live.ca

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