We arrive at the hotel, but can’t find it: We go to the spot where GPS dot says it is, behind the local curling club and the signs for other hotels, but we still don’t see it. After circling through several pothole-ridden parking lots, we simply pull up to one of the hotels, and ask at the front desk, and are directed to the back of the building.
It turns out that we’re at the right place. Our hotel was a different hotel until recently, and is now being renovated. We wait patiently in the crowded temporary reception area, as the line of people ahead of me complain about their rooms, or request extra towels for the pool, which isn’t indoors as I had thought. It is outside, sandwiched between an asphalt parking lot and an empty field, behind a chain link fence.
My cousin says he’ll wait, just in case.
By the time I get to the front of the line, The Child has decided we aren’t staying there, and I have realized we are; everything is prepaid, and I cannot afford a second hotel bill. I ask the desk clerk what we should do about that if our plans change – you know, family – and she nods and smiles and says we can arrange a refund for nights we don’t use. The Child wants to go elsewhere now, but I am too tired, and point toward the pool.
If we don’t like it, we’ll go elsewhere tomorrow. Or maybe the next day, since tomorrow is July 4.
Our room is serviceable, at best, but it’s fine by me, so my cousin takes off in his vintage Trans Am, leaving me a serviceable Saturn, in case I want to go somewhere.
We sit in the hotel room for a while, and I send a message to my one local friend, who I’ve known since second grade in New York City, and who somehow landed here as a college professor. He drives over, and gamely sits with me at the hotel pool, chatting and swatting mosquitos and watching The Child do handstands in the pool, until finally we are all exhausted and call it a night.
We sleep well, and the next night watch fireworks over the lake with my cousin, singing patriotic songs with people we’ve never met, making room on the grass so that everyone has a place to sit, just as they made room for us when we arrived, without so much as a blanket to sit on.