Those who know me, know that I traverse the continent intent on both driving to my destinations and stopping at motor lodges (‘roadside accommodations designed primarily for motorists, typically having the rooms arranged in a low building with parking directly outside the rooms’) along the way. You know the sort, back road motels that allow you to pull up to your door, unload your vehicle with a minimum of effort, complete with battered sinks that come to thigh level, and furniture that shares the vintage of the building.
The last night’s stay on my most recent trip cost me the humble sum of $36.00 in cash and afforded me a bed like a plank (my preference), and a cornfield out one window and a mule out the other. Modern hotels aren’t charming or comfortable, they are experiments in plastic and veneer and overpriced faux opulence intended to suggest cleanliness and value but providing neither. When did we become fearful of the aging of objects, each other, and ourselves?
Now, if I were plotting a motel, it would have no carpeting or upholstery, or anything ill advised for bodily fluids and take-out meals gone awry, and it would have the aforementioned planks for beds, and towels and sheets that were dried on the line, Castile soap, and glasses housed in waxen sacks (Circa Iowa 1967).
Sometimes a proprietress has a fine garden, bee hives, and honey for sale, along with nature photographs screwed into the wall; and genuine coffee, not pods. Occasionally, you can sit for a spell with the owner and discuss lives lived on the road (theirs by the side of it and mine rolling rapidly upon it). Sometimes, there is a woman, who having hailed all of the way from Scotland, now knows more about her adopted state, country and the feeding of weary wayfarers, than many who were spawned here.
Especially in the age of self serve, self storage, self portraiture and self aggrandizement, pulling up to your room, unloading and then loading, via the motor lodge design, with its references to a less self-seeking time, is a gift. The intimacy of being off the well trodden path and happily wedged between pastures and farm animals, is, for me, soul restorative.