Monday, July 1

9th floor of an 18-story airport hotel, Nashville, TN

It’s 10:30am. I have a flight at 5 in the afternoon. The cleaning crew is working their way down the hall: Taptaptap. “Good morning, Guest Services.” Taptaptap. “Good morning, Guest Services.” I put the little Do Not Disturb card (actual copy: “Brain Storm / It’s really coming down in here. / Better wait until it lets up.”) in the key slot, but I still have the usual low-grade anxiety that they’re going to knock on my door sooner or later, so I’ve given up on sleep.

There’s nothing you can say about the experience of hotel rooms that hasn’t already been said by some hack trying halfheartedly to wring wordcount out of exactly this kind of dead air moment. A hundred million people must be living more or less this moment right now: Flipping TV channels at chain motels before the wedding or the funeral. Sitting on vinyl chairs in quick-oil-change shops and shuffling through backissues of Sports Illustrated while they wait on the guy to come out and try to scam an extra 40 or 50 bucks to swap out something that doesn’t need swapped. Reading bad fiction in the airport while a half dozen gate agents mumble unintelligible formalities over the PA.