We go to a restaurant that serves so called healthy type food. My husband cannot have any salt; I watch the carbs. I cannot eat dairy. My husband has to hydrate. I drink bottled water. My husband has high cholesteroI. I watch what he eats.
Restaurant food has more salt than either one of us needs. Because of the extra salt, we need to keep drinking more water. And because of the extra water, we need to keep peeing even more than usual (which is a lot)!
We decide to skip desert and head back to our hotel suite. At night, the mocha colored walls seem darker – more like espresso. The one window in the drawing room looks small because of the heavy curtains that drape it on both sides. The lights are too dim. There are no recessed cans in a hotel room.
We are surprised to find champagne on ice on the entrance table: a gift from hotel management. We are too tired to drink and put it in the fridge for the next evening. For a second, I contemplate wearing my shoes to bed. But I take them off, just like I take off my shoes when I enter my house. My feet are naked and exposed. Man, they are really, really ugly. When exactly did that happen?
The Cialis commercial is shot in the desert. Maybe we should have gone to Scottsdale or Phoenix. We are so tired, we decide to shower in the morning. My husband falls asleep just like that. I get out of bed.
We could have gone anywhere. We could have gone to Paris for the long weekend or Boston, Montreal, Chicago, Austin, Toronto. We chose Manhattan.
I tiptoe back into the living area. I am barefoot and cannot feel my feet. Of course I bang into the coffee table! I cannot tell if I have stubbed my toe or toes because the neuropathy does not let me feel pain the way I once did. I cringe and plop myself down on the sofa. I have no idea how this could have happened because the table is an oval. It does not have any straight edges as far as I know. While I am rubbing my foot, I glance to the window. I get up and stand and stare out and across. Most of the apartments or condos or coops – whatever they are, do not have curtains on the windows. A few are still lit.
I have just finished Visible City and I want to peep into other people’s lives. Unlike the main character in the book, I do not witness anyone having sex. I do not see rooms filled with art and antiques. I do not see bookshelves. I do not see oriental carpets. I do not see anything that would make me imagine what my life might have been like had I opted to stay in the city instead of leaving for the suburbs so many years ago. I walk gingerly around the coffee table. I go back to bed careful not to bump into anything. At home I have learned, like a blind person, to feel my way in the dark. A hotel room is not home.
The sunlight is pouring in. I am sitting in the living area with my feet comfortably atop the tufted ottoman – the same ottoman that was my enemy last night. I survey the room. The building is definitely pre World War I so the ceilings are high, giving the illusion of space. The sitting room cannot be more that 12 feet by 9 feet, the size of a regular bedroom. The deep taupe walls with the painted enamel black crown moldings, seem formal. It is a hotel setting, not a home, after all. There is a gauche, gilded silver mirror with an antique finish hanging near the door. It is not placed exactly opposite the window so it does not reflect the sunlight. Even with the light pouring in from the window, this room can use more light. There is the perfunctory desk with the office chair. The dark wooden chest has curved drawers which are decorated with painted flowers. The drapes have gold and white broad stripes with a matching valance with inverted pleats. Golden tassels hang across the valance like the paper chains we used to make in grade school. Heavy duty golden tassels hold the heavy drapes open.
Mais oui! The hotel is French. The hotel room must have been recently remodeled. The carpet has no stains. The taupe wallpaper – for now I see that it is not paint – is not frayed nor torn nor worn. The tufted oval ottoman is meant to look like leather but smells of vinyl. And I have finally found the culprit: this ottoman/coffee table has curlicue wrought iron feet. The curlicue feet stick out from the perimeter of the table. I will have to remember that this evening when I take my off shoes. I make a mental note, then immediately worry that by the time the evening comes, I will have forgotten. An accident about to happen again.
My husband offers to run out and bring back breakfast. A croissant would certainly go with the milieu but I am lactose intolerant. My husband will have to walk the block to the gourmet shop to ensure that I can have soy milk and a roll that is not made with dairy products. He leaves and I am struck by a memory of a vacation twenty-five years earlier. We got back to the hotel in the late evening then, too. He had closed the door behind us. He scooped me up from behind. He kissed my earlobes and fondled me. He drew me down to the floor, gently but firmly. He commanded my attention. And he took me tenderly, as he took my breath away. The very next morning, he came back with breakfast just as I was setting the table with coffee.
He was handsome then and charismatic. He was confident and fun. And our life lay ahead of us.
As I look around at the room, the walls seem to be caving in. The decor is reminiscent of another time and place. It is ludicrous to come to Manhattan only to be tricked into pretending you are in Versailles in its glory…when France was at its height of opulence and beauty …when Europe ruled. When I was in my prime.
I was thirty-five years old when we met. I was thirty-eight when we married. Only twenty-five short years and a lifetime ago.
My husband comes back. We eat.
It is time to get out and walk around.