People often dream of exploring their home city, turning it into a romantic destination that can be experienced with fresh eyes of a tourist. See the sights! Eat in the finest restaurants! Go to sporting events! Shop till you drop! Relax in the plushest of hotels! And over drinks in the bar, at the end of tiring day, look at each other with wonder, and state, "You know, honey, this is a pretty damn fine place to live after all!"
We, on the other hand, are camped out at the Microtel Inn on McCutcheon Road near the mall.
It is the cheapest hotel in the city. I know that for a fact because on Hotels.com, I chose to have the hotels listed from cheapest to most expensive. So Microtel is at least the cheapest hotel in town that advertises nationally. It is so cheap that it doesn't have an entrance; at least, that's what we concluded the first 10 minutes that we spent looking for it in an area we have driven through regularly for the past 25 years. "It must cost a lot to pay for one of those major accesses," my wife said.
Because we have had our wood floors stained and refinished, and our house emits an invisible but toxic polyurethene cloud, we are living in a motel.
My daughter has fled to her friend's house.
Our hotel is a place where we run the air conditioning, not for the coldness, but to drown out the crying baby somewhere in a nearby room. The hallways smell like the oldest of smoke and some undefinable foulness that lurks even beneath that. The woman at the counter, when I asked if I should sign the receipt after she ran my credit card ($10.93 extra per night if you have a pet), gave me a lazy, empty smile and replied, "If you want to."
And yet, we cannot complain, for surely, among the power company contractors, fly-by-night businessmen and other denizens of the hotel, we have been given the finest accomodations--the handicapped suite. They say if you want a good dorm room in college, tell them that you have allergies. Well, if you want a good hotel room, tell them....Wait. We didn't tell them anything. We just got the handicapped suite. And believe me, we aren't complaining. Plenty of room to move around and a shower where you could hold a party, complete with benches and a portable sprayer. I'm not saying if we did or if we didn't.
It's funny how when you settle in a hotel, a certain mindset takes over, almost kind of an on-the-road mindset. You don't want to drive anywhere, you don't want to stay out late, you've just plain had enough and are satisfied with whatever the offerings are at your exit. After all, we are staying just off the interstate.
We finally got into our room about 7Pm last night, and, yesterday being Mother's Day, I wanted to take the mother of my children someplace nice for dinner, someplace like Bud's. But you know what? Once we got in that room, like a couple of weary travelers, we started reviewing the choices nearby--Wendy's, Fazoli's, Applebee's, Cracker Barrel. And, stacked against the competition, that darn Cracker Barrel started sounding pretty good. So before we knew it, we were tucking in to chicken, coleslaw, mac 'n cheese, biscuits, pintos, greens, corn, and the like, and slugging down sweet tea to beat the band. Finally, I was so sated, I was ready to hop in the car and put in another three hours on the road.
But, alas, our hotel, our home, our lives waited just a block and a half away. And that bed we wouldn't have to make, those way more pillows than we needed, those mirrors everywhere, and the mindless allure of a TV controller that felt like the gateway to other worlds all beckoned to us. And so we went back to those beds and fell soon into gentle slumbers with the drone of the television in the background, the job of actually turning it off too overwhelming to contemplate.
But for the constant low growl of our dog, reminding us that there were strangers living, breathing, talking, walking, crying, and clunking around all around us, you might have thought that this is our home. Oh, yeah. It is.