This was work travel. I was to drive for three hours (which always turns into five) to a town in a neighboring state to measure building for a client.
This is something I used to do in my days as a younger Architect. I took 1-2 day business trips, by car or by plane, to measure sites and buildings and sometimes to meet with City Officials. It was always kind of scary. It is always kind of scary for a woman traveling alone. I assume. I had always thought I was being timid or paranoid, but recent events on social media, as well as living in the world and talking to other people, have taught me that many women are uncomfortable traveling alone.
This time it was scarier than I remember it being. Is it because I haven’t traveled alone in years, and I simply must get used to it again? Maybe.
Is it because my previous trips were mainly in the midwest, and now I am in more metropolitan areas? That may have something to do with it.
Is it because being married, even if my husband is not physically with me in the car, gives a sense of security? Probably to some extent.
It’s a combination of those things. I wasn’t in terror the whole time or anything, but I was nervous at some points along the way. I didn’t like how isolated the hotel was, and was nervous being in the empty abandoned store all day.
In truth, however, I was looking forward to it.
A night away from the kids, in a hotel, where I wouldn’t have the option, much less the compulsion, to feel guilty for not doing the dishes or painting the walls or folding laundry.
A “night off” from being a widowed single mom.
A night to myself.
I imagined listening to my new Kevin Hearne book in my Jeep on the way to the hotel. I imagined checking in late afternoon, maybe checking out a local tourist attraction before dark. I imagined getting room service or having food delivered. I imagined swimming in the hotel pool or taking a long hot bath. I imagined watching TV propped up on those hotel-y pillows that hotels have.
I knew better, but I still imagined that.
The reality was that my client prefers I get a rental car. I was able to listen to my new book, but had to listen through a tinny bluetooth speaker I have because the radio in the rental doesn’t play media off of non-apple devices.
The reality was that I checked in around 9:00 at night.
The reality was that it was a Comfort Inn. I toyed with the idea of asking the client if they would be okay with me staying at a luxury hotel if I billed them for a Comfort Inn stay, but decided not to broach that subject since this was my first trip for them. This client prefers to pay directly for the hotel. So I was booked in a Comfort Inn. I checked for bedbugs, and found the bed and the room to appear clean. Obviously there was no room service. There was also no list of restaurants that delivered to the area.
The reality also was that I am on a diet. I had brought my diet food with me. Rather than search for an hour for local food delivery to the hotel, I just ate my diet food.
The reality was that the pool was closed, and the hot tub was weird and smelled odd. I was a trooper and got in the hot tub anyway, and then showered right afterward to avoid getting a yeast infection or typhoid or something.
The reality was, who wants to take a luxurious bath in a Comfort Inn tub?
The reality was that the TV got six channels.
The reality was that the hotel wifi was unsecured so I did not feel comfortable logging in and getting work done.
I went to bed at 10:30 watching reruns of The Family Guy and feeling like the loneliest person in the world.
It was nice to have the time to myself. It was nice to car-cry and to go to bed without unfinished chores calling to me.
It was good to wake up alone. I love my kids, and most days it makes my heart happy (even when I’m grumbling about the hour) to have them wake me in the mornings, or for me to wake them. It was grand, however, just once, to wake up and just be me. I wouldn’t be able to access the site until mid morning, so I woke and puttered around, putzed with the in room coffee maker, etc. I padded down to the free breakfast in my jammies. The free breakfast was not awesome, but I’ve had worse. I got my stuff packed and ready to go.
Not my kids’ things. Not even my husband’s things. I was not in charge of finding anybody else’s lost socks or making sure everyone went potty and remembered their drinks for in the car. I did not have to stop anybody from fighting with each other. There was no “five more minutes of this show” or “hold on honey let me check my email one more time.” When I decided it was time to leave, I picked up my bag and my purse and I walked out the door.
Lonely, but awesome. Simple. So simple.
I then worked all day and got back in the car — some more Kevin Hearne, some more car crying.
Overall, I give the experience a B+. I felt like a real member of the adult working community — not as a ‘mom’ or a ‘working mom’ or a ‘work at home mom’ or a ‘wife’ or a ‘widow.’ Nobody in this place knew or cared about those roles. I was a person on a work trip. I was a professional doing my job. It has been a long time since I have felt that so strongly. It was lonely and sad for part of the trip, but lonely and sad is where I live much of the time. It was good to get out and about.
Next time I will see if I can arrange for a better hotel situation. I have a hankering for a $10 room service candy bar.