The Hotel

Memory Monday

Whoa-wa! What just happened to the WordPress dashboard? There is black? And slate grey? Maybe I like it? I can’t decide.

Okay. Enough of that.

Today is Memory Monday (again) and I feel that after all my blurting (sort of vaguely) about “trauma in London,” I need to take this opportunity to say that those three friends and I made up before I returned to the US, and that two of them (who have since married each other) and I are now back in touch via the last-century wonder which is email. I think we’ve all grown up a bit. They have a couple of kids. It makes me happy that we are in contact again.

I also feel that I need to take the opportunity to recount a happy memory of at least one of these people, so here’s one–from before the fall-out and make-up:

My friend the Lovely Ecuadorian stayed with me in my house for sometime between a week and a month while Roommate-Beth was in the USA, and we bonded (I made North American pancakes, which were always a win, no matter who it was) so that when she was chosen Employee of the Month (or something like that) at the hotel where she worked in Central London, she honoured me as the friend who got to benefit with her from her award.

“Jennie, will you come with me?” she asked me. The award was a night in the hotel for the awardee and a guest, with dinner and a bottle of wine in the evening, and breakfast the next morning. At the time, as she was not dating our other friend that she ended up marrying, and in any case, all of us had certain guidelines about romantic interactions before and after marriage, so I guess her closest in-country platonic girlfriend was a perfect choice. I dunno. It made sense to me, and I was flattered to be asked.

Now that I think about it I wonder if I would have been as stoked to sleep overnight in my own place of employment as I was to stay at someone else’s, but look, we lived in the East End, and none of us made a lot of money, and it was probably nice for the Lovely Ecuadorian to be the beneficiary of some of the beautiful customer service she was so used to offering in the sumptuous surroundings she had to work in every day.. We jumped on the Tube and rode into the City, and unfortunately I don’t really remember, but I feel like we sneaked in a back employee door, which was exciting.

We did, however, have to check in at the front desk, where the award was verified and we were ushered to the dining room for our complimentary dinner.

I might be wrong about which hotel it was, but I'm pretty sure it was this one.

I might be wrong about which hotel it was, but this dining room looks delightfully familiar.

It was a fancy dinner. I mean the kind where the plate is an enormous elegant white slab and each course looks like a tiny little dot in the middle of it, but it was so delicious, and so astonishingly filling that, after eating however many courses we were entitled to (the number of which I no longer recall), and drinking our complimentary bottle of wine, we essentially staggered over to the elevator (I mean lift–we’re talking about London, here) to get to our room.

Neither of us were big drinkers, but I don’t remember being even buzzed–just surprised that we had done justice to the whole bottle between us, and really really full. We rode up to our room and each camped out on our individual queen beds and talked until something like 2 o’clock in the morning. Probably, knowing both of us, we sang and prayed together, too. Weirdly, although it is my favourite meal of the day, I do not remember breakfast at all.

In the morning, we each got up and maybe the Lovely Ecuadorian had to do something absurd like work after that, and maybe I had appointments with contacts in the East End. Or maybe I had the day off. I remember walking past the employee entrances on my own, feeling quite delighted that even a hotel employee and a religious worker, neither of whom usually had two pence to rub together–even between the two of us–could still have enjoyed one 12-hour period of five-star hotel-ness. It was an unexpected, but surprisingly not all that uncommon, moment of freely-given and received happiness. There were lots of little surprises and delights like that in London. Maybe one day I’ll tell you about another one.


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