It’s a silly post title, because I don’t really believe that “The Universe” (a.k.a. God / fate / etc.) is or isn’t kind. It just is. But it is nice when good things seem to happen in such a way that it suggests a sort of higher plan or celestial harmony.
I had been hoping to spend this weekend at Wellspring House, a little B&B / retreat for writers and artists in
central western Massachusetts. I wrote a good chunk of Double Time there in 2010. But they were full this weekend, which was one of the very few weekends that would work.
I’ve been so desperate for writing time, though. So I said — with Alastair’s blessing (thank you, Alastair!!) — screw it. I’m going to spring for a hotel somewhere.
I chose Portsmouth, New Hampshire, a pretty — but not too pretty — little seaside town full of restaurants and bars and boutiques. Alastair and I used to come up here on day trips back when we didn’t have kids, only time and wanderlust. It’s less than an hour away from Boston, but far enough away to feel like an escape.
I got a good deal at the Hilton Garden Inn, which I chose because it was right in town, and therefore wouldn’t feel too isolated. (All work and no play and all…) And, well, it seems I chose wisely.
When I got here, the young women at the desk were incredibly friendly and helpful. Which is appreciated when one is traveling alone. I’ve checked into hotels alone countless times, in many place, from Paris to Peru, but exciting as it is, there’s still a touch of loneliness to it.
Anyway, we got to chatting and I told them I was up for a weekend to write on my own, away from the kids, and I don’t know if they saw the crazy-sad desperation in my eyes or what, but next thing I knew they’d upgraded my room and given me free breakfast vouchers.
So I ended up in this huge, lovely room, with a couch and a big ole bed. I made myself a cup of decaf with the Keurig, sat down, and started writing — I’m working on a novel, and God knows if it will ever get done, or if it will be any good, but I venture onward — and less than an hour later there’s a knock on my door. I open it, and a hotel employee hands me a paper bag.
“A gift from the front desk.”
And it was, indeed, a gift from the front desk. But not just a hotel gift — like assorted nuts, or a complimentary loofah. But a gift gift: a card (see photo, above), a nice pen, and a pretty little folio of stationery. (Not Hilton stationery, mind you, just stationery.)
And let me back up at this point to note that I had never once uttered the “C” word to the front desk.
I immediately called to thank them. The woman I talked with said that the other woman, who’d just left, was an aspiring writer. And on her way home, she’d gone into a fancy paper store nearby and felt she had to get me something. So she did, and brought it back to the hotel. And there you go.
And here I am, with her card propped on my desk, feeling — against my more practical inclinations – like I was somehow meant to come here, this chain hotel in New Hampshire.
As if the front desk reception wasn’t proof enough, when I went downstairs to the restaurant/bar for dinner (I didn’t feel like going out; too raw out), I chatted with the musician for the night as he set up — lovely guy, a singer/songwriter/pianist named David Lockwood — and learned that his latest album is a series of songs inspired by a handful of New York Times “Modern Love” essays. (Coincidentally, one of those essays was written by a classmate of mine from Iowa.)
So, good writing energy is all around me, it seems. And lovely gifts of all kinds. A feeling like, hey, people aren’t so bad after all.
Now, the much harder part — the writing.