When the Universe is Kind

FrontDeskIt’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.


12 Responses to “When the Universe is Kind”

  1. Good luck with the novel! Can’t wait to read it. Glad you found such a good place to escape to. Enjoy!

  2. Anne Marie says:

    Wow – what an unexpectedly great welcome! It’s nice to hear about people doing good deeds just for the joy of doing them and making others happy. Good luck in the writing this weekend!

  3. Wendy Mastronardi says:


  4. Ruth says:

    I hope this is all a good omen for the progress you’ll make on your novel. Enjoy your productive solitude!

  5. June says:

    Wishing you a wonderfully productive time.

  6. Lynda says:

    Such a sweet beginning. Enjoy your weekend and write well <3

  7. Michael says:

    I’d say Ashfield is really Western Massachusetts, not Central, but I’m only in here pointing out that completely irrelevant detail because I’m sooooper jealous of your cool writing weekend and so I’m trying to distract you from your novel. Internet! Comments! Kittens! Google Maps! Trolls! Robin Williams in a tickle fight with a gorilla, etc.

    (Just kidding of course. I love Portsmouth, and I love your writing. A fine match. Hopefully you can ignore the internet and people like me COMPLETELY while you’re there and knock out some pages. Good luck!)

    • Jane says:

      Damn you! I spent hours looking for a video of Robin Williams in a tickle fight with a gorilla! (Because how awesome would that be? If the gorilla won, anyway.)

      And you’re right; I guess it is western. I couldn’t remember — because I didn’t want to go down the Google maps rabbit hole; I would have ended up trying to see it on Google Earth, and next thing I’d know, I’d be looking for the Taj Mahal — if it was east or west of 91, which I think of as the dividing line (which may or may not be the criteria other people use). Turns out it’s west, so there you go.

  8. Liz L. says:

    Sounds like a perfect day so far.

    I think if the area code is 413 then it’s western MA. I only know that because I went to William’s hillbilly cousin’s college, NASC.

  9. April says:

    I feel the world is all connected more than we think. Things like this prove it. Good luck with your writing. Can’t wait to read it!

  10. Janice says:

    This warmed my heart. Happy writing!

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