Woke up a few moments ago not knowing where I was.
I hate when that happens. I’m on my fifth day of travel, third different motel. They’ve all been sorta grungy and grim. Here, in Gulfport, Mississippi, room 235 of the Quality Inn is surely like room 203 of the Quality Inn, and room 118 of the Quality Inn. The air conditioning unit makes a soothing hum, but the smell reminds me of a cardboard box that was soaked by a night of steady rain. The shower head is coming off the wall, and was probably installed 15 years ago. The carpet is a shade of dark booger, surely to hide a lifetime of stains and real boogers. The remote control is jarringly sticky, which immediately causes me to wonder whether the guy here before me was jerking off to some skin flick on Channel XX3.
There are hairs here and there. If you look close enough (as I, regrettably, do) you’ll see many strands, surely from many people. The sight immediately grosses me out, though I’m not entirely sure why (from a logical standpoint). You can’t get sick from someone else’s hair. It’s just … hair.
I sometimes wonder how the art is picked out for motels. It’s always the same—a picture that exists, but goes unseen. It’s neither ugly enough to be offensive nor beautiful enough to be noteworthy. I can picture some Quality Inn executive assistant to the assistant executive, walking through a warehouse in Topeka, coming upon a stack of 10,000 prints—$3 a pop, bulk—and saying, “OK, we’ll take those.”
When hotels are beautiful, they’re one of my joys. I love walking into a clean room, with neat folds and beautiful views and, just maybe, a mint or two waiting on a brilliant white pillowcase. But when I’m in room 235 of the Quality Inn, a motel visit is merely a motel visit.
I arrive. I plop down my suitcase. I brush my teeth. I go to sleep. I wake up.
And, hopefully, I recognize my whereabouts.