The room we checked out of that morning was clean but spartan and worn: brightly painted walls, easy-clean white tile floor, one window that didn’t open and one that didn’t close, a tired air conditioner, and a few sticks of inexpensive furniture including two single beds. The hotel was on a major street, so there was always the hum (or honking) of traffic.
This new hotel room the opposite in many ways: pale walls and sheets, dark carpet, dark fixtures and furnishings, a kitchenette and fridge, a couch, everything clean and new. And quiet. Hell, I was impressed with the mere existence of the bathtub, and a toilet where the lever didn’t disconnect itself from the flapper every other time you flushed. It just felt so civilized, but my enjoyment was tinged with mild regret that I’d be spending so little time there.
Well, almost everything was in good repair. When Gawan decided to run a bath for me, we found that the plug, which should have been screwed into threading in the drain, was loose in the bottom of the tub because the pressure switch was broken. Fortunately it was stuck closed rather than open, so simply screwing it into place plugged the tub.
With the water now running, Gawan took charge of ordering some food since he was hungry and I was starving. He dialled room service but the person he reached wasn’t able to take the order and told him that someone would call back to the room shortly. No call came. So Gawan went down to the restaurant to place the order in person, and came back up to the room with a promise that the food would follow.
While all this was going on, I was having a relaxing soak. It was an ordinary soaker tub: deep but built for one. But the idea was to share a bath, so upon his return, Gawan shoehorned himself in at the uncomfortable faucet end without complaint. After a while he got out again in anticipation of dealing with the arrival of the food. But no food arrived. He went back down to the restaurant to scare it up.
I got out of the bath shortly after he left. Dried and dressed, I just wanted to relax but I thought it would be wise to call down and make arrangements for the shuttle before the torpor kicked in. The front desk advised that the shuttles went every 30 minutes, so which one did I want? There were two times that seemed reasonable — 7:30 was definitely early, and 8:00 would get me there on time. I wasn’t feeling too lucky. I chose the 7:30.
Gawan was gone for quite a while and I was beginning to feel lonely — we were spending our time together apart, and I was busying myself with email and catching up on blogs. Finally he burst into the room, triumphant with white plastic takeout bag in hand, the successful hunter and provider. But the hour was late, so I had to inhale as much of the gourmet burger and fries as I could in what little time was left.
And then, the inevitable: it was time for me to go.
Gawan helped me with my bags down to the lobby. There was no sign of the shuttle. After a few minutes I asked the concierge, “Will 7:30 shuttle be here soon?”
“Oh, the shuttles don’t run on a schedule. You have to book it in advance for whenever you want it.”
“Aha. I did book it. For 7:30.”
“I’m sorry, there’s no record of that… Oh wait. Here it is. I’m sorry, it looks like this wasn’t passed along to the driver. Let me call him now and see where he is.” He called. “He’ll be here very soon, just a few minutes.”
Mhmm. “A few minutes.” Because it was the hotel’s error, the concierge was prepared to pay for a cab. And there was a cabbie right there, regarding me expectantly… But it was only about 7:40, so I decided to chance it and wait for the shuttle. The cabbie left. And the shuttle arrived — it really was “a few” minutes after all.
At the door of the hotel, Gawan gave me a hug and a kiss and sent me on my way.
I was anxious to get on the damned shuttle and get back to the damned airport. I’d relax when I reached the gate.
I was feeling so frazzled from the difficult day of travel that it took a while for me to see the forest for the trees: Two weeks makes for an epic first date, but we still liked each other enough at the end of it that we chose to spend those last few hours together, rather than plotting our immediate escape from each other. Gawan felt, and rightly so, that it would be more comfortable (and of course more private) to spend the time at his hotel. In the face of a swarm of irritations beyond our control, and neither of us being at the peak of health, he got me to the hotel, got me relaxed and bathed, got me fed, and generally did his best to take care of me. That’s what was important.