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Pretty Good Hat

That time I lived in a hotel for two months

It’s an interesting experience to pass through most of a season in a new place — in this case, a temporary and somewhat unsettled place. We have been out of our house for two months, due first to a Christmas-time trip north, and, since New Year’s Eve, due to remodeling making it virtually impossible to live in our house.

After returning to town and expecting to find the house habitable, we spent one surprising and very, very bad New Year’s Eve paying an absolutely exorbitant rate for the last motel room in town: A filthy and despairing place where we woke early and left as soon as possible, settling finally in the place where I woke today. Since the first of January, we have lived in a small but clean room at a long-term stay hotel, two adults, a kindergartner, and a year-old dog in a one-room space with a tiny kitchenette.

We are ready to go home again, and as of today, it looks like home is ready for us, or just about. To be clear, there’s still a lot of work that needs to be completed, but the final milestones will mostly wait on the completion of our new countertops, which could be a few more weeks. So at this point, mot of the very dirty (so dirty) and disruptivve work is complete, so — back home we go! We won’t have a kitchen sink or dishwasher or stove for a while, still, but we will get by. I will have my fast internet, and my coffee machine, once again.

We figured out how to go about our lives more or less normally — gym, work, school, etc — albeit with a lot more driving and a lot more dog time. The pup has gone just about everywhere with one of us, and we are lucky enough to be able to work from home, so we have traded off spending work days with the dog in order to keep her from barking too much at the hotel. When we run errands or go out together, she goes, too.

We are all looking forward to having a little more private space once again. For one thing, this living arrangement has been very bad for work-life balance. We have both had way too many 5am conference calls, or early starts just to recover some time that we know would be claimed later by driving across town, dog walks, kindergertner time; all the things that can fit more seamlessly into life at “home” but that take more time when fit into the constraints of living somewhere else. That said, being in close proximity for so long is a good motivator to develop some discipline and focus: I can’t just go to the other room to read for a while, so I have to put on my headphones1 and get it done right there, right then. So life goes on, and there’s a lesson in that for us.

We found a few new routines, too: After picking up my son from school on cold afternoons, we often made cocoa for him and took iPads and laptops down to the hotel lobby, where he could sit by the fire with cocoa and Minecraft, and I could have a beer — Goose Island IPA, $2 all the time may be the best thing about this place — and catch up with work or play of my own.

In January we had our tenth greatest snowfall on record, and while we didn’t need to shovel out at the hotel (aside from clearing the cars), I had to make several slow cross-town trips to keep the house clear so that the crews could get to the place and work. From deep winter, we have gradually turned toward spring: the days have grown longer, light coming up to the sky earlier while I sit at Starbucks with a coffee some early morning. On Jan 1, we woke up to a few inches of snow; and today woke up to a skiff. That feels like a nice bookend, like we didn’t pass entirely out of winter in this liminal place, despite the feeling that spring is getting close.

We didn’t expect to spend our winter like this, but so it goes. I have been at times frustrated, exhausted, demoralized at the combination of living conditions, obstacles at work, and things just not being the way I like them to be.2 Yet each day I am one day older, whether I am in the place I want to be or not. I have tried to be very aware that it is my privelege to be able to chose how to live each of those days.

Looks like we will complete the move-back-in process in another day or so. It’s going to feel so good to make coffee in my own house (albeit in a bathroom, because we don’t yet have a) a sink or b) working electrical outlets in the kitchen).

  1. I have listened to so many podcasts and watched a ton of solo Netflix in the past couple of months, all with my super AirPods, which are basically always at hand, now. I listen while walking the dog on our circuit around the hotel complex, catching a few minutes at a time, so easily and effortlessly. Those suckers are worth every penny to me. ↩︎

  2. And, of course, while managing (with a great contractor) through a significant construction project at our house. ↩︎