Chapter 33 - "Guantanamo"
Like aromatherapy, the fragrance of conversation and community started working its way into our psycho-system. Flushing out sorrow; fleshing out meaning. I’m telling you…community is the cure for almost anything that ails you in life. It’s the medicinal remedy, the God-ordained vaccine injected into the underworld of the inner man. Nothing gets to the heart faster than kinship. (a good movie comes in close 2nd)
We said our goodbyes and headed to the neighboring town where Doug’s truck was undergoing extensive remodeling. It was supposed to be done by the following morning so that we could get on the road, homesick and homebound. Even with the ingestion of ineffable beauty, I was missing the most beautiful thing in my life, my family. The encounter at the bar only stirred up my desire for some of the relationships that I had left behind in Michigan. Thoughts of getting home were starting to crowd out all other thoughts.
As we pulled into the neighboring town, we began a search for a cheap hotel to bed down our carcasses for the night. I was dying for a soft bed, a warm shower and quilted toilet paper. The amenities of life that I’d gone without were beckoning. It was late at night and my body was exhausted from the wanderlust. My eyes were peeled for any kind of restful establishment.
But this town didn’t possess a hotel, only motels. Little dives kept alive by dirty truckers and desperate tourists. I’m not sure what the ratings were for these places, but I’m not sure they would have passed with half a star. The first place we stopped was an inn with a house for an office. There were no lights on and the signage wasn’t illuminated, so we weren’t sure it was even in business any more. Doug dismounted from the truck and rang a doorbell. I felt like we were knocking on the door of a random house asking them if we could rent a room for the night. I couldn’t even look forward I was so embarrassed and unnerved by the experience. My memory is a bit foggy, but I think someone came to the door in a nighty and told us that the only room available was a double bed. I could think of worse scenarios to be subjected to, but they all take place in Guantanamo. Let’s put it this way, I just wasn’t going to spoon with Doug on our last night in Montana. Some people wouldn’t have any problem with that; I’m not one of them at this point in my life.
We declined the offer as enticing as it was and ventured down the road to the next dilapidated lodge. There were a couple lights on in the parking lot and the office sign was flickering like you would see in any blockbuster horror film. Doug again put his life at risk and ventured toward the front office. Another rudely awakened slumlord came out the front door and pointed to a room at the top of a rickety deck on the second story. There were only 2 second-story rooms and this was one of them. At this point, I didn’t care what they were like so long as Doug and I slept in separate beds.
We agreed to stay and grabbed our stuff out of the truck to haul up the stairs to our 1 star arrangement. As we walked in, the odor of must and mothballs literally made my throat tighten leading to a choking reflex. It was dank and the colors screamed late 70’s. I was looking for cockroaches in the corners and bats in the belfry. I’m not sure what you have to do to pass the state’s requirements to get a permit for lodging, but it must not be very stringent based on the condition of this charming chalet. But at this point, I didn’t care, I just needed my own bed…and after about 5 seconds, I spotted it in the back corner.
It didn’t take me more than a minute to set up camp and slip into the bathroom for a warm shower. I was hoping they had running hot water. As I turned the handle toward hot, I held my hand under the flow feeling for a change in temperature. After about what seemed like a minute, I felt the first droplets of warmth. Slowly the water became warm and eventually escalated to scalding hot! I was naked in no time and standing under the heavenly beads of boiling H2O for what seemed like an eternity. I stood there until the hot water ran out. Bliss.
I dried off, wrote in my journal, watched some cable television, and fell fast asleep. By this time my nose had adjusted to the black mold and exposed asbestos hanging from the water stained ceiling. What doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger, right? I hope so.