I hate hotel rooms. I like the service, sure, and the water pressure is usually something out of a wet dream (no pun intended). But I hate how empty they feel. Hotel managers strive to pack their rooms with all the comforts of home–fresh linens, a television with cable, a writing desk, wireless internet access, and a variety of scented soaps and lotions to make you look and smell as lovely as the room you’re staying in.
But everything feels artificial. The bed is a little too firm, the linens a bit too abrasive. The shower is too tight, even with the bow-shaped curtain rod, which is designed to create a sense of space–also artificial. The television is grainy, the writing desk cramped, the internet too slow. The soaps and lotions have the same smell across all hotels, clean and soapy, but uninspired, unoriginal. And no matter how many lights you turn on, it’s never bright enough, always slightly more dim then you’d like wherever you’re working.
And it’s all just a little too cramped. The desk is always shoved in the corner, out of the way, with a floor lamp above it (the one place in the room where you can get sufficient light, but it’s too bright on the laptop’s screen, causing eye strain). Clearly defined walkways are narrow, and too angular. There’s no flow to the space, no feng shui. In their effort to make the place feel like home, they have stripped it of anything resembling the natural comfort of your personal living space.
And it makes the place feel soulless. Every hotel is the same, regardless of its position on the star-rating continuum. And as I sit in my hotel, I can’t help but wonder about the room’s previous occupants. How many people have come through here? How many have left their individual mark on the place, only to have it sterilized the next morning by hotel staff? How many individuals have been homogenized by this place, their stories assimilated by the collective?
I’m just being bitter. I know I am. But then again, I have plenty of reason to be bitter at the moment.
My phone chimes, and the screen lights up. I retrieve it from the desk beside me and half-heartedly activate the screen. A text message from Ashley.
Please come home.
I consider the words, the implication. It’s been four days since I saw her. Since the last time she rebuked my sexual advances. Since I reminded her that it had been a good month since our last sexual encounter, if not longer. Since we argued about the role of sex in our marriage, and my need for intimacy. Since I grabbed my gym bag and stormed out of the house. Since I booked my hotel room for an unspecified amount of time.
I look at my phone, rereading the message over and over. I imagine what it would sound like coming from her mouth. I can hear her voice, straining through pain, struggling to hold back the sobs. I can see the tears in her eyes.
I know she misses me. Christ, I miss her too. Being away from her hurts me at the core of my being, at the most fundamental of levels. I love her more than I can explain. I need her in my life, like I need food and water. She sustains me, supports me. She centers me. I want to be close to her. I want that intimacy, that sexuality, to feel her physically consuming me the way she consumes me emotionally, mentally, and hell, probably spiritually.
Christ, that sounds fucking crazy. It sounds like an unhealthy infatuation. Hell, maybe it is. Ashley is my obsession. She is the physical representation of everything that is good and wholesome in my world, and I want to be a part of it, in every imaginable way. And to be constantly denied the sexual intimacy that I want, that I crave, from someone who is otherwise everything I could possibly want and need…
My phone blinks off. I hastily reignite the screen, rereading the message, over and over, anxiously, obsessively. Fuck, I’m so angry at her that I can’t think. Four days later, and I’m still angry. Does that make me juvenile, I wonder? Am I a spoiled, immature brat? Or am I justified, and this is righteous indignation that I’m experiencing? I don’t have the slightest clue. All I know is, I’m fucking furious. I’m frustrated beyond words, beyond any hope of reconciliation. I need something to change, but I don’t know how to change it, and that just fuels the anger. It’s probably why I’m still mad, I think. I’m a published scientist, a researcher, a theoretician, a programmer. Hell, I’m a fucking genius. And yet I can’t find a solution to the one thing that I need more than anything else in this world.
What good is intellect if it can’t give you the things you need, if it only makes you dwell on alternate scenarios, how things could be different but never are?
That’s my problem. I’m dwelling. I need to stop thinking about things. I need to stop letting the situation get to me. I need to immerse myself in infidelity, to find pleasure and satisfaction in my marital indiscretion. Ashley won’t give me that, for whatever reason, so I should get it elsewhere.
But I don’t want to get it elsewhere. I want what we used to have, and I’m afraid that in losing it, we’re about to lose everything else.
I don’t think my marriage is over. I’m sure I’ll go home soon. But isn’t leaving, for any amount of time, an indicator of what’s to come? Is the ability to just up and leave for days at a time the litmus test for a failing marriage? If so, where does mine fall on the scale? Are we on the cusp of a major failure? Am I about to become another divorce statistic? The idea is heartbreaking.
And I realize now, I’m not bitter. I’m just sad.
I reread the message. I consider the words, the implication. And I have no idea what to do.
For now, I put the phone to sleep.