After my last meeting of the day, I embarked on a road trip to visit my old friend Rachel. During the 10-hour drive to Tennessee, I reminded myself repeatedly that I had chosen to drive because I wanted to have my car with me. Since Constance’s passing, I am incapable of predicting, even a moment into the future, what will happen or how I’ll feel about it. Any fanciful work of science fiction seems as likely to me to happen as does whatever actually happened today. Bring on the elves riding unicorns.
For the first half of the drive I considered the meaninglessness of life. I spent the second half of the drive listening to an old David Sedaris audiobook. I recalled when an ex-boyfriend and I had a fight over that book because he thought it would be romantic if we read my printed version together in bed. I thought he should get his own damn copy.
Ever the generous friend, Rachel invited me to come and stay with her for as long as I’d like. When she said her sons would be out of town this weekend, it seemed like a good time to visit.
Last week, I went to my dear friend Florence’s house. When her sons, Constance’s former friends, came home from school unexpectedly, I freaked out. I immediately fled to my car and left so I wouldn’t cry in front of them. Florence had arranged a lovely spread for us and followed me to the door carrying warm pastries. She, too, generously offered that I come and stay with her for as long as I want. This was a particularly generous offer because her house is listed now and, hence, it is in museum quality condition. For me to leave my house so it can be sold only to stay at Florence’s house, thereby making it hard to sell, seemed wrong to me. Nevertheless, it was a characteristically generous offer.
When I was about two hours away from Rachel’s house, she messaged me to say that her sons were still there and wouldn’t be leaving for the weekend until the next morning. Given how poorly I coped with seeing Florence’s sons, I knew I couldn’t handle spending the night there with them.
It is not surprising I wouldn’t have all the details because I didn’t tell Rachel I was coming until I was on my way. There is a reason the old me planned things in advance; that’s how things are arranged.
It turns out it is pretty hard to get a hotel room at 11 pm on a Friday in Memphis. I made several hotels.com searches with fewer and fewer filters before realizing the only stars I was going to see tonight would be in my own imagination. I began cold-calling front desks.
One challenge I always have with shopping is that when I don’t want something, I don't want it no matter how cheap it is. As a result, when I stayed at a hotel last month in California, a well-heeled friend to a break from driving his sports cars between his three houses to exclaim, "Wow! That’s tony!" when he found out what hotel I was staying at. Apparently, it was a lot to pay for a hotel to him. In my defense, I deeply enjoy and appreciate nice things. Also, it’s not like I need to save to send my kid to college.
When I eventually found a hotel that had a room, it was only because the hotel was under construction—something an online search would have warned me about. It was supposed to be a Marriott hotel; however, the internet in the rooms didn’t work. Further, the bedside stand featured used sandwich wrappers. The painters were busy painting and the mildew was busy molding. I stayed up all night with the lights on, constructing increasingly more biting versions of an email to the hotel’s customer service department. The upside of them not having working internet is they won’t get my email until I don’t care about sending it anymore.