For over sixteen hours, the airplane is your world. So, when you are finally allowed to walk off the plane there will always be a part of you that is excited yet anxious about the destination. In those long hours over the Pacific, everything is catered to your needs: entertainment, food, drinks, pillows and blankets, slippers, eye masks, and basic social interaction. The airplane is a place where strangers can immediately strike up a conversation having a common interest, the journey and the destination. But after we all land, all those basic human interactions become more complex. As we leave the walls of the terminal behind, walk through the Port of Entry, and present our documents, we are suddenly launched into the world again as grown adults, to choose, to succeed and to fail.
My choices were rather simple, find the car, find the hotel, and find a shower. Then sleep. Thankfully, most of these tasks were preplanned. The car was reserved, a Holden, the last of the old V-8’s. It might be a bit garish, but the car was comfortable and certainly fast enough. My hotel wasn’t far away, but navigating the city streets took some adjustment. The left side was wanting to be on the right side. It’s important to follow traffic, don’t be bold now. After a decent nights sleep, there would be plenty of time to lash out and put my foot down on the country roads. For now, just get to the Hotel and park.
It was midday, the car’s clock reminded me of this, but my senses felt unsure of this fact. After arriving at the Hotel’s underground carpark, I grabbed my bags and found the elevator to the main level. As the door opened to the lobby, my nose was greeted with the smells of a pub lunch. My stomach growled, despite all the food that was eaten on the airplane. I craved a real meal, hot and fresh, not from a box. At the counter I set my bag at my feet and smiled at the blonde as she looked up from her computer screen, pleasantly smiling back at me.
“Can I help you, sir?”
“Checking in, thanks.”
She took my passport and credit card. As she found my reservation, I looked about the large lobby. A high chandelier hung over the center. The floor was marble tile, clean and polished to a mirror finish. A revolving door led to the street which was packed with pedestrians on their lunch hours walking briskly to and from their respective places of work. The lobby was quiet though, despite the activity on the street. It was early for arrivals and late for the departures. I could hear laughter and voices coming from the pub attached to the Hotel lobby. I was once again reminded of my hunger. But first, a shower and change of clothes.
“Your key sir. We have you for the one night and if there is anything you need, please don’t hesitate to ask.”
She handed back my card and passport along with the room card. I nodded, thanked her, then picked up my bag and headed back to the elevator. During the ride to the eighth floor, I stared at my face in the mirrored walls of the lift. My skin was pale and the lines of my face seemed more creased and haggard. My clothes, while nice enough, appeared slept in, which was certainly true, and disgracefully wrinkled.
The lift stopped and the doors slid open. My eyes felt foggy and I squinted a bit to read the room number directions on the far wall. With each step to the room, my feet felt heavier just as my legs felt weak. I reached my room, slid in the key and opened the door. The air was fresh, and the room cool. The sheets of the bed were stark white with small red accent pillows. The rest of the furniture of the room was dark wood, cheap wood, but clean and modern. A large television was on the burrow, and it was on, showing a welcome movie with no sound about the Hotel and the area. I put my bag down on the luggage stand, turned off the TV and stripped off my clothes, letting them fall to the floor in a disshevled mass.
I made my way to the bathroom, ran a hot shower and climbed in. The shower was long, the soap fresh, and the steam refreshing. After toweling dry, wrapping the towel about my waste, I walked back into the main room and lay on the bed. The cool air tickled the moisture still on my skin. My eyes closed, and without care, food forgotten, I let myself fall into a deep, dreamless sleep.
Tomorrow would come.