Travel Terrors: There’s A Hotel In My Closet

Vintage Comic Postcard

by Susan Bonifant of Worth Mentioning  

One day long ago, while I was looking for something fun to read, I came upon Linda Goodman’s “Sun Signs.” In her description of Tauruses, Linda referred to us as “creatures” who are highly attuned to their senses; drawn to things that look and taste and smell and sound good, and feel nice to the touch. In gracious astrology language, she predicted I would be a “home and hearth” type.

I found Larry, to whom I was as attuned as a person can be without being sewn to him, and we started our family. I became a stay-at-home and hearth mother which, as Linda predicted, was as easy for me as breathing. Eventually I discovered Pottery Barn and we became a catalog. What’s not to love about that?

This is what.

“Home and hearth” also describes a person who is averse to unfamiliar surroundings. In other words, we/they don’t travel unless we/they have to.

I am hotel-challenged. I wake up in the night disoriented and panicky as if I’ve fallen off a cliff. If I can go back to sleep, I wake up moments later and it starts all over again – fall off the cliff, wake up, fall off the cliff – until I reach the somewhat acceptable hour of 4:00 to rise. Then I make coffee and read and wake up Larry. The second night always goes better because I’m too tired to be apprehensive.

This kind of mystifies me. I don’t have a terrifying hotel memory or a scary association with hotels at all. They are just, upon waking suddenly, in every way, unfamiliar. But for me and maybe other home and hearth people who are attuned to their senses, it is the grown-up equivalent of a monster in the closet.

For a long time I was too busy homing and hearthing to travel anyway, so it made no difference. Now, my children have left home and taken my excuses with them. The world just beyond my familiar surroundings feels like a party invitation that I declined while everyone I know is talking about what to wear.

I kind of have to change this, and kind of right now.

I will pause here to mention that this is another kick-ass thing about being fifties. It doesn’t take years to understand things about yourself anymore. When you’re older, you understand things about yourself while you’re walking to the kitchen from the living room. You have to. If you plan to do anything useful with your revelations, you can’t dawdle. I more than kind of like that.

Three things have brought my hotel-issue home, pun intended.

First, I want to make new memories with my friends, and they – all of them – travel.

Second, I will be a certain type of older person some day. I can be the eighty-year-old who is enriched by the unfamiliar or, I can be the eighty-year-old who knows what’s on sale at Pottery Barn, where the phrase “home and hearth” was born.

Third, my friend Kris Lucas, who pleasure-travels far and wide and more often than anyone I know, posted a picture on Facebook recently: she is boarding a Piper which will fly her to the bottom of the Grand Canyon where she will connect with a helicopter which will connect her to a pontoon ride on the Colorado River with Hualapai natives. I look at her her cute wash-and-go blond bob, face caught mid-laugh and little bag which probably holds a change of clothes and essential toiletries. She looks like a celebrity en route to a friend’s private island. There is nothing about this woman that says “I would, except that I’d have to stay in a hotel.”

I want to post a picture like that.

And so, I have made the decision to start traveling. And not sissy-traveling by car, either–I didn’t get over my fear of flying for nothing–but by plane/boat. I’ll do it in stages, backwards. I’ll book a cruise–which combines fear of flying, fear of falling in the ocean, and fear of hotels all in one club sandwich of anxiety. However, because cruises don’t set sail for several decades after the deposit is made, I will have plenty of time to bond with transportable comforts for sudden wake-ups; special music, special pillowcase, special eye mask, etc.

I’m kind of excited. This could kind of work.

We are the same age, Kris and I. She is vastly more knowledgeable about different parts of the world than I am today, and gratefully so, considering how she has inspired me. By the time we hit our late seventies, I’m hoping it might be my photo that inspires a person to pick out an outfit and go to the party.

Because what a party girl I will become, once I lose the eye mask.



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