Friday, March 14, 2008

The Cheap Motel

Last night I stayed at a cheap motel, thanks to a recent gift. (thank you, to you know who)

Walking in to the room, dropping my bags, shutting and locking the door behind me, pulling the curtains closed, and I realize just how stressed I am - stressed to the point of sickness. I fall onto the bed, bouncing a little, on my back with my arms stretched out, my feet hanging off the edge, and I burst out with a silly laugh. I can actually feel myself feeling better and better, honest to God real relaxing. And for a moment I almost cry.

There are two very real benefits to having your own place, especially if it's just for one night. And it's hard to choose which one to take advantage of most. Because really, they are kind of exclusive.

The first benefit is sleep. Oh dear God, how good a well made bed of springs and support feels, with just the proper amount of sheets and blankets and pillows, and the temperature of the room just the way you like it. Sleep comes easy, and is of an infinitely better quality than in any shelter. What a blessing. I feel so much better today than I have in a least a month, when I last got a cheap motel room.

The second benefit is privacy. The thing with sleep is that you are unconscious, and are unaware of your privacy, or anything else. To do whatever you want, whenever you want, is something homeless people are so deprived of. Many people wrongly assume that homelessness equate to freedom, but it doesn't, not even close. When you are homeless, you are always in the public eye, and people must act a certain way in public. When in the library, sitting down with your favorite book, you can't just kick off your shoes, or assume just any ol' position in the chair. You certainly cannot sit or lie on the floor in the library. You certainly can't fall asleep. You can't sleep in a public park either, or do any number of things that you wouldn't think twice about doing when at your own place. And that creates a stress that often goes unnoticed, until you are relieved of it. It's like all the sounds of the city. Your ear hears them all, but your mind selectively ignores them. And you don't realize all those noises are there until, like on a Sunday morning, most all the noise making things are turned off. Even when taking a walk around downtown on a Sunday morning, you can noise the quietness, and feel a sense of relief from the stress of it.

And with real privacy you can watch tv or not - and if so, you get to watch exactly what you want to, without having to compromise. You can take a shower whenever you want, for as long as you want, you eat dinner when you want, and eat what you want, and you go to bed when you decide to go. And so there is this temptation to stay up late, if not all night long, just for this time of being in control of your own life and actions, sans the shelter regulations and administrators who observe and dictate your every motion.

I didn't sleep as long as I hoped I would. But I was still able to sleep in. I awoke at 6:30, which is an hour and a half longer than I'm usually allowed to sleep when in a shelter. And by 6:30, in shelters, have already awakened, dressed, had breakfast, finished the chores of putting away sleeping cots, etc, and have been driven down to, and dropped off, at Room In The Inn. It's funny but true, that the homeless will have done more by 8am than many people will do all day.

But not me, not on this day. After I woke up, I turned on the tv and just vegged out for a while. Good Morning America, Regis and that other girl. Dustin Hoffman was on Regis this morning, promoting a movie. I don't think it will be a good movie, but it was interesting listening to DH talking about home life - like he's just another human like me.

Eventually I checked out of the motel and walked up to a fast food restaurant for breakfast. Then I caught a bus back into down, just in time for the bring-your-own-lunch/bible study at Downtown Presbyterian Church.

Yes, I stayed up longer than I should have - I could have gotten even more sleep at the motel. But I still benefited from a night of privacy - a privacy I might not again visit for another month.

I feel much better today.