Happiness Is A Hotel Room

There are some people who hate hotels. They miss the comforts of home, the well-tread channels of their own remote, and the assumption of safety that comes with all of it. I am decidedly not one of those people. If I had my choice, I’d spend the rest of my life living in a hotel. In my days of more extensive traveling I lived out of a suitcase and loved every minute of it. Being away from home somehow made things more real, and staying at a hotel made me feel more present. Without a place to call my own I was left on this island of me, and being acutely aware of that informed my life with a greater urgency, a more exciting moment-to-moment existence, where every minute seemed to matter more.

If all you have to present to the world is yourself – without the backing of a walk-in closet or backyard pool or any number of material accoutrements – then you have to focus more on your actual self ~ on your bearing, your words, your personality. Anyone with a big-enough closet can impress – it’s the people who live without all of that and still manage to capture our attention who matter. It sounds strange for someone so enamored of clothing to say such a thing, but there it is. The unlikely truth of the matter, laid bare before you. Believe it or not.

Far more often than the destination, it has been the framework and surrounding exercises of travel that have always held me rapt, and the starting point for this has become the accommodations. In recent years, I’ve come to appreciate the importance of a decent hotel room. In the distant past I’d be happy to simply have a roof and a shared bathroom on premises, but in my older age I’m less willing to rough it, and more demanding of finer lodging. Yet even a simple hotel room holds its allure.

I love the pretend sterility of it (save your tales of ultra-violet-revealed horrors) – the stark expanse of a perfectly-made bed, the covered cups, the baby bottles of shampoo and lotion, the way the curtains beckon to be opened or closed, the thermostat waiting for your very own preference of climate. It is as if the room asks you to leave your imprint on it by being so very blank – and I am glad to do so – in the opened suitcase, the hanging suit, and the traveler’s toiletries. The transitory signifiers of a life temporarily stationed for the evening. (I don’t mind the real lack of cleanliness in some places – we’ve survived plagues, a dirty hotel room won’t kill anyone.)

The emptiness and quiet of a hotel room appeals to me too. It is easier to think in a hotel room, simpler to focus on whatever’s ailing you, because there are no distractions. No dishes waiting in the kitchen sink, no pile of laundry in the bedroom, no damp dirty towel on the bathroom floor. It is a clean slate, waiting to be replenished each morning upon your departure. I long for such simplicity.

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