Anyone who knows me, knows I love motels and hotels. I actually currently live in one, which is sort of strange cause I used to say it was my dream to live in one. In my 20’s (before I realized the wrath of bed bugs), I sort of lived for dingy motel/hotels. I had no money and they were this sort of living the American dream. I was doing a lot of wandering from state to state and I sort of fell in love with staying in cheap motels/hotels. Underneath the fact that they were not the most glamorous places was stories, and I lived for stories. I can think of 10 insane stories off the top of my head that I heard or lived through in one of these places. There was just so much to take in the decor, the people, the people that ran the place. I sort of always dreamed of owning one, until I realized what an expense it would be. The thing is, so many of them were opened by people who had the same dream. They wanted to talk to travelers, give them a good night’s rest, hear stories about their adventures. They’re probably people like me that mourn the loss of the railway system in a the U.S. Instead, we got the ‘road trip.’ I have said to my family many times, “When I die, scatter my ashes out the window the car because my life has always had the most happiness and joy when I’ve been on the road.’ The sad thing about the ‘motel’ is that it’s lost it’s way to big hotel chains. The interesting thing is many of the same people who are struggling to keep up that motel are the individuals who had that dream of welcoming travelers. They still run the places and in the years of staying at them, I’ve found some of them to be the nicest people you ever will meet. Most of them are holding out to finish their careers or whatnot before they inevitably put their motels, which once sparked the American dream, to be sold and probably demolished for the land they sit on. You definitely see this in beach towns all over this country. Part of my fascination with hotels/motels is that if their walls could talk, they would make amazing reading. I always imagine the sad, beautiful, tragic things that they’ve heard and witnessed. They’ve gotten me through some interesting times. A friend and I used to have the ‘hotel/motel’ escape, where we’d choose one in some city and tell no one where we were going and we’d buy a box of cereal and just hole up in the hotel for the weekend. I only did this in cities that I knew that were close. I couldn’t bear to do it on a road trip because the adventure of the town or travels would call me away from it. This poem started in LA. I can still sort of see the room. Different parts came at different times. I’m still not sure it’s done. I feel like it’s this poem that’s always evolving. It might have something to do with the fact that it’s about evolution and how time changes us, the culture, and what we leave behind when that happens. To me, even though the motel is being demolished, as I was writing this poem, I tried to imagine someone reading it. I tried to think about what an old beach motel might bring to mind to them. In it, I hear stories of my grandparents. I feel the sadness that some of these old hotels have taken on. I see love stories and breakups and breakdowns and moments of redemption. I hope it conjures up experiences you’ve had. I feel like most people have a story or two in one of these types of places.
Hold my coffee it’ll keep your hands warm.
We wait for the wrecking ball to demolish
The old Silver Cranes Motel. Chipped paint,
Seagulls agasp. A small crowd has gathered
Bathed in the rhythmic wash in/wash out
Of the soured sea behind us rebuilding incessantly.
Time is its language. Fast forward. Rewind. Remind
Me of the dizzying brit pop beats moving throughout
The headphones we shared like fast forward glaciers
Melting over and over. The music slows and we watch
Pangea uniform in slow motion.
Buttermilk flapjacks in our stomachs,
Sticky with syrup’s sweetness & yet heavy
Like manhole covers subletting our stomachs.
A wind that makes the tears in our eyes resonates.
Motels where prom queens lost their virginities
Are bulldozed after years of overdoses
And high school party beer spills. We are
Both thinking about the first days of the Silver Cranes,
When beach blanketed bikini clad Anette Funnicello’s
And their Frankie Avalon’s came to shore
Frolicking in the sand and living it up. Followed by,
Sixties housewives dressed in a Sears Catalogue favorite
And their Don Draper husbands checking in
To the newest motel on the beach, some
To save their marriages, others to begin them.
A baby boomer or two conceived in the sheets.
Pictures of a housewife or two that laid in those rooms,
Staring up at the stucco ceiling. Fist clenched
With Mama’s Little Helpers in hand.
All winter towns are full of beach bunnies.
All prom queens are seduced by the idea of Sleeping Beauty.
There is really nothing beauty can fully conquer, I think.
There’s not a lot that a sincere amount of doubt can defeat.
We stand together on the freezing beach. Holding hands
As history lets go of a part of our story. I gave
Writing lessons to your hips when we were young
And living off the inspiration of any grain of lost summer sand
we’d find in the carpet of our empty January wallets.
We, like every one who has ever checked in and out,
Did so in the hope of getting a starry starry night,
To illuminate the slow dance of whatever you were dancing with.
Every winter lake has her beach baby on speed dial
For those moments when you need an answer in a gap,
Some sand in the carpet.
The sight of the ocean just a curtain moved.
A place where each room ripples with undercurrents of stories
Of lives washing in and washing out.
Eras made by dreams created and destroyed.
We stand silent as the wrecking ball swings,
Crashing down walls that listened and kept
More intimate things than surely any of us on that beach
Can ever say we have known.