While my early rising doesn’t guarantee that I am polished enough to shine, I get some of my best contemplation done between four and seven a.m.
Since the Significant One needed to be at the airport by three-forty-five to be on time for a five-fifteen from here to there, I decided to grab a cup of Brazillian bean juice and turn my bow northward. Recruited to be an in-house sitter for a few days, I was destined to present myself at the G’daughter’s house by zero-seven hundred hours, right when mom and dad shoved off for work purposes.
The all-night fluorescent-lit gas emporium drew me in like a moth to a flame, and I topped off the tank, scrubbed the windshield with dirtier water than the glass it cleaned, and turned the heated seat to bun warming status.
SiriusXM provided tunes, and The Bridge played songs I had all but forgotten. As I passed a hotel, I commented—to no one else—that the backlit neon sign featuring the available room accouterments listed everything you need and nothing you don’t.
Fridge, Coffeemaker, Microwave.
If only life were that easy. I argued with the presenter that it was that easy. The other half of me nodded my head in agreement. The argument was over.
The consensus was that those three essential items were exactly triple what travelers could expect to get less than fifty years ago. Now, mind you, this hotel is known for something other than luxurious extras. It’s a basic place set up for one or two-nighters, not weeklong stays.
There was no mention of free wi-fi, a breakfast buffet, a coffee bar, or foot massages for the weary wanderer. But I summarized in my mind that a traveler would have been lucky to get just one out of three of those brightly back-lit black-lettered benefits just a few years ago.
The place was almost empty, or at least the parking lot was. Maybe it wasn’t enough, or it could have been a slow night for travel.
If there had been anyone else in the car, confusion might have overtaken them if I had spoken any of this out loud. But it was just Ellie and me, and I understood. She didn’t care.
I wish I could tell you why I mulled all of this repeatedly in my mind for over an hour, but I couldn’t put my finger on it.
As the sun crept up to my right, I switched to Bloomberg news and caught up on business information that meant nothing to me. Surfing multiple news options, I came across an interview with a few Ukrainians living in the basement of a bombed-out building. There was no electricity, but they had a fire. There was no breakfast buffet, but they had bean soup. One lady was making bread. None of this was visible to me, but the reporter described the scene well.
I come from a place where words mean much more than photos or videos. I don’t have TikTok, and I don’t intend to get it. I let my mind make the pictures; sometimes, it’s far more accurate than the garbage that pummels me with high-resolution images daily.
Those interviewed presented themselves as damn lucky to be alive, and they had exactly zero of the three luxuries used to beckon weary travelers to that non-luxury hotel. For most of us, including myself, those luxuries would not be enough to draw us in; there were undoubtedly better options just a few more miles down the road.
But what if there weren’t?
The reason is that only when you have nothing do you appreciate so little, like a piece of bread, soup with beans, and the warmth of a small fire.
Can you imagine if the group— barely surviving in that rubble— saw a sign as I had seen? Imagine their joyous celebration.
Fridge, Coffeemaker, Microwave; we are kings, and it’s still insufficient.
From the Jagged Edge, I remain,