What is the sound of hotels? Ambient loneliness pumps through heating vents and air conditioning units. Drips down the inside of window panes steamed against the cold on the nights too frozen to venture out. To travel for work only makes these whispered rooms only seem more existentially empty, for there is no point besides sleeping in another town you have not chosen to be.
There are people who come to these rooms armed. With cans of Lysol to ward off the misdeeds of those who came before them. With their own bedding, so they can strip off the covers in an effort to avoid the DNA of another. With ear plugs and eye-blinds to replicate the darkness of their own rural home. All strategies for coping with the anonymity. The sense that you could slip away here and not be noticed missing until after your check out date. That unless the maid came across your blood-spattered body wedged under the bed, no one would know until the killer was long gone.
I have an anxiety about sleeping in rooms with two beds side to side, so much that I make a special request against it when booking. If ever I am to have a night terror, awaking to the glowing digital numbers drowning me in red insomnia, it is in a place with two beds. Reminding me of my singleness, my aloneness – in a room that sleeps four there is only me. And the only me doesn’t want to be reminded of those who were there before. Or those who might mysteriously appear in the next-door bed between midnight and three. A strange hump under the covers, or the unexpected flush of the toilet, light shining out from under the closed bathroom door.
I am not one prone to nightmares nor do I possess a fear of the dark. But the rattle of the air unit, the sound of those above and beside brushing their teeth, the muffled drone of multiple channels being watched at once, the strange clicks and scratches in the hallways at night. Each a small thing to skitter against my brain. A world set apart from the cities in which these hotels sit.