Aalways differentalways the same.
That is to say, regardless of the size, mood or condition of the room, whether there is black hair curled up in the bathtub or an orchid in a vase on the table, which you greets when you open the door, every time, is a neutral whiff of possibility. A sense of your self awaiting. who are you gonna be in here ? As you mingle with this cautious anonymity, as you drift and settle lightly into this fanciful or not-so-fanciful non-place, what could happen?
Not much, probably. The old gravity asserts itself, the old you-ness; you spread out your things, you build your sanctuaries, you start making your little traditional bazaars. You arrive, then youto arrive. Somehow the hotel room, in the mystique of its banality, maintains the invitation. Especially if you let housekeeping in. Another day. Another chance. Clean and crispy leaves. Your shit politely rearranged. Maybe this time.
Even before you do any real mischief, the hotel room promotes a minor moral breakdown. Your instinct here is to slouch, sprawl, escalate, create crumbs. Invisible hands worked for your comfort, it’s not good for you. The citrus-scented body wash and robust Wi-Fi will have you feeling slightly vicious.
I like noises. The whine or wheeze of the bathroom fan; beef noises in the hallway; the fridge turning on while you’re lying in bed, and then that weird gasp in the air after it’s turned off. Those muffled voices through the wall – the low, honking, incomprehensible vowels; the cello-like moans – surely they recall the experience of being in the womb? They put me, at least, in a state of baby suspension of mind. Recently at a hotel in the San Fernando Valley, I was convinced that a porn shoot was going on in the next room. It might as well have been a very engaging game of Trivial Pursuit.
And then it’s over. The crate arrives at a gallop, always too fast, and there all of a sudden you have to pull yourself together: your luggage exploded, your brain exploded. You’re trapped in a time-lapse movie of yourself packing. Have you changed here? Forward, backward, sideways? Hustle, hustle, and don’t forget to leave a good tip. Appropriate the hotel room, for you will return. You will land another day, in another city, somewhere else in the eternal dreamlike honeycomb of hotel rooms. Wide-eyed expectation, almost innocent, you will open another door.
This article appears in the May 2022 printed edition.