I spent the Thanksgiving holiday inside a hotel room.
I dropped my kids off with their dad in a specialty food store parking lot.
Scarlett had scraped her knee getting into my car that morning, the blood beginning to drip down her leg as I buckled her car seat.
I kissed her tears while Maddox watched on from his own seat, his nose crinkled in concern.
It’s okay, baby. I tell her.
But it comes out choked, because I want to cry with her.
We drive down roads we always do, listening to songs we always listen to, doing everything we can to engage our baby who gets easily agitated during car rides. What about this song, Moo! And we sing I Want A Hippopotamus For Christmas, Maddox’s tiny nose still doing that thing it does.
I drop them off with their dad and I distract myself with the possibilities inside the specialty shop. I can get the spicy cheese I like. Oh, and persimmons, nobody appreciates them in my house like I do. Oh, and I’ll get a beer! I walk around the produce aisle, watching couples and families secure the last of their holiday meal necessities. I explain the difference between a Fuyu and Hachiya persimmon when she spots a single Fuyu in my basket.
They’re more forgiving, I tell her.
What will you use it for though, she asks.
I tell her, My charcuterie plate for one, and I can tell I’ve made her uncomfortable.
I stand too long in front of the beer cooler and it makes me self conscious, like I’m unable to make choices or I don’t know anything about beer or I’m underage.
I get a coffee on my way out, the barista making small talk as the new pot brews.
Most people in here are stressed out, but you don’t seem stressed. I clear my throat to ensure my voice is steady before replying.
No, I’m not stressed. In fact, I’m the opposite. I’m going back to my hotel room to take a bath, actually.
I leave out the part about being away from my babies, being away through the night from my actual baby. Deciding that one awkward stranger encounter was enough for the day.
I unpack everything into my mini fridge, both hating and loving the complete silence.
I make a reservation to use the fitness center, my first time inside one since March, and I’m the only person there. It’s comforting and lonely at the same time, and while it’s nice to feel my blood course through my veins, I’m distracted.
I feel like I have somewhere to be.
But I don’t.
I assemble my charcuterie plate using the tray the ice bucket resides. Throughout the course of the day, I’m submerged in water for a total of 5 hours. Sometimes writing, sometimes mindlessly scrolling, sometimes turning on my white noise app and letting it fill in the spaces.
I get quite a bit of writing done, I decide I don’t want to start reading something new, so I pad out, wrinkly toes on hotel carpet, sit naked and wet on the bed I won’t be sleeping in, and look out the window at the mountains, now purple, as the sun sets behind them.
Okay! I think. A whole day! That wasn’t so bad.
I eat a chocolate chip cookie and begin a series I’m not sure when I’ll ever finish. But it’s good, and I’m glad I chose it, and I laugh out loud and let myself get drowsy before shutting it all down, turning on the white noise app, and clicking off the lamp.
I knew it wouldn’t be this easy.
The bedtime routine, and doing it solo, was enough to send desperate and ugly howling noises straight into my pillow.
So much so, that I was grateful for the white noise and thick walls, feeling insecure at possibly disturbing my neighbors.
Who is howling, they would think. And why now?
That lonely was a different kind of lonely entirely.