The Hotel

“It was about 10:30am when the sunlight hit the windows. I looked at the roofs of the houses with patches of snow and at the mountains far away. My face and shoulders got hot from the sunlight and I stood motionless looking outside. My husband had left an hour ago and the kids were jumping on the big hotel beds. We needed to checkout before 11am.

I turned to our bed and finished packing the suitcase. I closed the zipper. I put the suitcase down and moved it to the door. I turned around and realized I still had a lot to pack. I started with the toy cars on the table, then small airplanes, and books. Those filled the backpack. There were stuffed toys all over the bed. I picked those and put them in a plastic tote bag. Bunnies and bears with their brown feet sticking outside. The bag was moved to the door near the suitcase. I went to the bathroom and picked the toothbrushes and hair pins. There were perfume bottles, mine and of my both children. The makeup, the kids’ towels, the bath toys. I stood puzzled wondering how I managed to get so many things into a hotel bathroom. I packed a box with our bath things. I still had to find space for the kids’ plush towels and bathrobes.

I moved to the second bedroom. Books. The books and toys were everywhere. The kids clothes. Brown jackets, black jackets, boots, snow boots, hats, scarfs, jeans. Those were not fitting inside the suitcases. I took some of the bigger items and piled them on the table. I noticed a box with the dolls under the nightstand, a domino game, and a fire-track. I fetched a grocery box and put the toys inside of it. Then, I opened the hotel apartment door and started to move the packed items into the hall. The hotel manager passed by our door and I felt deeply embarrassed by the amount of luggage we had accumulated. I was not tired of packing, I was not stressed, I was not in a hurry. I was profoundly taken aback by the pile of stuff that I have gathered during our stay at the hotel.

It was close to 11am when I finished moving all the snow gear and clothing into the hall. I went back to the room and realized I have forgotten the blankets. Two thick wool blankets that we carried for the kids. Those were very expensive, good quality blankets, the ones that are handmade in small Norwegian villages. My family believed those to be the best ones and insisted on taking them with us on our trips. “So that the kids do not get cold in the hotels at nights,” said my mom. I pulled the blankets from under the sheets. I rolled each of them carefully and fit them inside a big suitcase. On top I piled some of the kids clothing. Then, I noticed tea cups on the table and some plates decorated with green dancing bears. We brought those plates from USA, years ago. I put the plates in between of the blankets.

Three white bookcases stood under the windows. The bookcases were full of books. Our books.

It was our third stay in this hotel this year. Each time we stayed for three or four days and occupied the same rooms. It was supposed to be fun, we skied, had dinners and stayed up late. The kids run in the fresh air, did sports and ate crepes for breakfast. Without noticing it, as we had fun, things grew around us. They occupied our time and space. They grew bigger than us, they bankrupted us. Then came the sudden realization of it.

“How did you go bankrupt?” a Hemingway character is asked in The Sun Also Rises. “Two ways,” comes the answer. “Gradually and then suddenly.” So it was with my personal life bankruptcy.

I stood in the sunlight in the hotel room and looked at the pile of things to pack. I did not move. All the things were mine. But they were not me. I bought those things. Generation upon generation told me that we needed those. We needed those blankets, those jackets, those books, those cups. And I got them all to keep our house warm. The kids enjoyed using them. The things have served their purpose.

Now I was in the middle of the room. Facing the window and the three white bookcases full of books. Behind my back were suitcases, and boxes, and bags. The kids were playing in the main bedroom. “We will just take some books and some toys,” I said to myself. And I stood still.

There was a knock on the door and the hotel manager came in and told me it was noon and we needed to leave the room. I told him that we will in couple of minutes. He looked around and did not say anything. He left the door open.

I took the books from the bookcases and put them on the table. A pile of books. Then another one next to it. While I was doing this, the sunlight was on my hands. First I felt the warmth, then it burnt my skin. It also brought the forgotten taste of pleasure. Sun touching uncovered skin. I sensed the sweetness under my tongue. I took a pile of books and placed it inside of a brown box. I put another one in. I lifted the box. It was heavy. Still I could carry it to the car. I heard the kids’ voices from the other room. They were playing a game.

I told them I would load the car and be back. They jumped down to kiss me and continued what they were doing. Outside the air was fresh. The snow crisped under my feet. I opened the car trunk and placed the books there. There was enough space for a suitcase and couple of bags. The white metal of the trunk was cold. I put my hand on it to see the thin layer of snow melt around my fingers.

Then I headed back to the hotel to pick up the kids and couple of more things. “I should ask the kids if they want their blankets during the trip.” At the half past twelve we went down the hall. I handed the keys to the hotel manager, smiled and the three of us left the hotel.”

I woke up. It was still dark. The night was over.

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