In Victoria, Unencumbered

After the first few minutes of excitement, I realized something: hotel rooms are depressing.

I put my things down, took off my boots, turned on the lights. Big bed. Cabinet with TV. Window overlooking other windows. Desk with gold lamp. Drawers full of postcards, writing paper, bible, a phonebook and a guide to the hotel.

I saw the two bottles of Olympic Merlot, airplane-sized, $12 each from the mini bar and was tempted to just open them both, hang the expense, and stay in the room. “Why did I do this?” I thought. “I should be at home with my family.”

I am on vacation. Away from my people, from any people who know me. It is widely regarded as A Good Thing that I do this, including by me, in fact I was so paranoid that it would not happen that here it is, the first time I mention it and I’m already here. But it is so silly that the things that most drive you away are the things that most pull you back.

Fresco, this morning, heading to preschool with Trombone and Saint Aardvark. A careless look over his shoulder, a cavalier wave, a “buh bah.” My eyes filled with tears. “Doesn’t he know, I won’t see him till FRIDAY!” Ok, taco-for-brains, remember at 3 am when he woke you up and you wanted to mail him to Australia? Hold on to that feeling and go catch the bus, already.

Why did I do this? I came here to be alone. I came to feel alone. But not lonely. I honestly did not think I could feel lonely, not after the past three years of having something growing in, coming out of or latching onto my body for some portion of every day.

Yet, there it was. An empty, anonymous room with my two small bags in it. A day’s journey toward this non-descript end. A clean bathroom, at least.

Don’t fret, friends, there is a bright resolution: when I left the hotel room (after 10 minutes flopped on the bed, contemplating just turning on the TV and watching Oprah with those two bottles of Merlot) and took a deep breath of the fresh, cool air, my feelings quickly reversed. I felt not lonely but alone. Blessedly, silently alone in a new city with nothing but a bit of time and a bit of money and some fairly low expectations.

I went for a long, exploratory map-less walk through downtown Victoria and though I was convinced, at times, that I was in Vancouver (co-worker A, am I crazy? Are the two cities remarkably similar?) I was entirely delighted and can’t wait to go back tomorrow during daylight hours, when I can poke in and out of stores and drink coffee and eat ice cream and oh yes, there is beer in this city.

The last time I spent any time in Victoria was when I was in grade school and we came here for a field trip. Legislature, Royal BC Museum, uh, Wax Museum maybe? Actually no, the last time I was in Victoria was 1991, the summer after I graduated and I was forced to come and visit with an uncle I didn’t particularly like instead of going to Whistler with one of my best friends. So I was surly. And we were photo-opping down on a path around the harbour and there was this guy playing a guitar, busking, and he was cute and talented and I was in the throes of a) 17 years old and b) guitar boy lust and I just stared at him and gave him a dollar or something and thought about how some day I would have a life that was REAL man, I would have a guitar boy or someone with soul or something and it would be AWESOME.

Little did I know I would end up with no fewer than three guitar boys in my house, but I digress.

Tonight I was walking by the stairs that lead down to that harbourside path and I heard guitar music and looked down and there he was. Still. I swear it’s the same guy. Same spot, same knitted cap, same scruffy beard. It couldn’t be that all busking guitar boys look…the SAME…could it?

There is no real point to that story.

My hotel room has a balcony and I can hear the pitter patting of rain on tin awnings while I drink my wine (don’t worry, not the minibar wine; I stopped at a liquor store on my walk) and even just sitting out there for a few minutes at a time takes away the depressing “hotel” feeling. I wonder if it’s something they pipe in the air ducts; some kind of depression dust that makes you want to lie in bed and order $18 breakfast (plus $5 delivery charge)(plus gratuity) from room service.

I will not be doing that. I will be going here instead. Rawr.

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