Hotels rooms bode ill for personal morale

I am not much of a traveler. Usually I blame my small dairy farm heritage for it because our family had too much responsibility with twice-a-day milking to lift our noses from the grindstone long enough to read a travel brochure. Travel was something other people did.

My friends whose parents worked at factories that shut down for two weeks over the Christmas and New Year’s Eve holiday were always the lucky ones who traveled to Florida or at least as far as the Carolinas each year. I remember hating their cool butts while I was still in Michigan, freezing mine off, feeding and bedding cattle and shoveling manure. Their brightly-colored, sandy beach scene postcards with their “Ha ha, you’re not here” subtexts wedged themselves in my craw worse more firmly than the sand between the senders’ toes.

I grew up thinking that someday, when I officially “made it,” I would travel to exotic locations and send postcards to my childhood friends and actually write on them (on the cards, not the friends) “Ha ha, you’re not here.” But as an adult, I’ve been hard-pressed to spare the cash for the stamps, let alone the trips.

God gets the first 10% of my earnings and he has done an excellent job providing for my needs. However, my wants have been left wanting. The basics, from groceries, to heating fuel and electricity, to insurance, to home and vehicle repair, to kids’ expenses, continue to consume all my earnings.

Additionally, the advent of the Internet, on which I am and my kids are expected to transact work and school business, and the cell phone on which I am expected to be reached, and the television on which I can no longer get reception without a satellite dish, have heaped more unwanted expenses onto the pile. At the end of the month, there’s less than nothing left, including time. At this rate, I’ll have to steal a postcard to send. No end in sight.

Divorce’s financial reality has severely limited my travel, except for work, which basically amounts to the irony of going to an interesting place, only to see its airport, conference rooms and hotel rooms, with some good restaurants thrown in. Worse, it further underscores what an economic have-not extra I am on the set of the depressing reality show known as my so-called life.

Hotel rooms, with their full-length mirrors, illuminate realities I would prefer not to face: I should be at the gym rather than sitting in my car, commuting long distances; I should have those suspicious moles looked at; and I should be at home, investing more in my kids than my 401(k). Things are not looking good on multiple fronts and backsides.

I check into hotel rooms where I am able to quickly climate-control my surroundings using the thermostat, unlike at home, where the combination wood/oil furnace and high ceilings make temperature adjustments akin to trying to about-face a battleship: it neither turns on nor costs only a dime.

I relax and watch a television roughly twice the size of my family room model, with no one interruption of viewing by pseudo-urgent demands. Before retiring, I step into the shower, noting a professional did the caulk job around the edges, unlike my DIY home caulking efforts that look like Lucy and Ethel frosted the cake with a garden trowel.

The unexpected force of the hotel shower stream bowls me over, simultaneously reinforcing applying my eagerly-awaited income tax refund toward having a real plumber investigate why my home hot water has been reduced to trickle. Sometimes denial is the only affordable alternative.

When I fall into my hotel bed, it’s between triple-digit thread count sheets, unlike my own sheets, which are much more like a PGA nine-hole golf score, with a weave as obvious as a children’s summer camp loop potholder project. The hotel mattress is so revitalizing it shouts the next rotation of mine back home needs to be out the window and onto the curb for garbage pickup.

But alas, I still have many miles to travel. My faith and I remain at the transport station, waiting for a ticket to prosperity. Postcard forthcoming.

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