When we pulled in at 7:10p, he had turned off the lights and locked the door.  I’m grateful to the kid on the bike who kept him occupied long enough for us to arrive at our hotel for the night.  He gave us our key and our checkout time, and showed us where to drop the key “when the office isn’t open in the morning.”  Then he went home.

 

My son, whose mouth dropped open on seeing the “concrete teepees” I’d been promising for a month, jumped out of the car like he was spring loaded when we pulled up to old #8.  He didn’t care about going inside; he raced down the little hill to the playground where 5 other kids (from at least 3 families) were in the middle of a game.

 

The game changed to “We’re being attacked by aliens” as my spring-loaded son got there – he was the alien.  He ran, and made friends, and roared for an hour.  He stopped for water twice.

 

This place isn’t built to be inside.  The inside is small, old, dated, and a little run down.  The park bench outside the door is worn out and over-painted but it faces the center and the playground.  Tomorrow I will sit on it with my door open and watch the sunrise.  Tonight the air was fresh and clear after 8 hours of driving and adventuring.

 

It is the second time I’ve been here; both at this hotel (it seems like there should be a different word for it), and in this specific room.  The first time was with my dad almost exactly six years ago.  That night, he and I sat on the bench and chain smoked while we both wished for a beer, because it just seemed to suit the moment.  It would have tonight as well.

 

There are just these moments in life that feel like they should.  We are tired, but enjoying each other.  We are eating like crap, but not nutritionally toxic yet.  We are together, but increasingly apart.  He never asked me to come and play with him, and I never inserted myself into the play because I love seeing him react nimbly to whatever the play situation is.

 

I enjoy places like the Wisconsin Dells that are great, intense family smooshing-together events where lots of people are parallel to each other in the experience.  Like back decks and privacy fences where the overhead picture is dad after dad playing catch with child after child.

 

There are also places like Wigwam Village #2 in Cave City, KY that feel like front porches and community.   Where the warm air of the building chases you outside into the cool air of the evening and into the sight lines of people who will smile and nod and go back to what they were doing.  Where the manager goes home when the last guest has checked in and if you are fool enough to be on the road past dinner – you can be fool enough to drive up the street for a normal hotel room.

 

I love this place.  I love the memories that it holds for me, for my dad, and now for my son.  I love that it comes with an actual KEY, that you can unlock the door and it won’t lock behind you, and that in the morning when some two-parent family sends someone off to buy breakfast that I’m going to beg them to bring me a cup of coffee – and I expect they will.

 

Why would you stay at place like this if you were a person who wouldn’t get an extra cup of coffee?

 

 

 

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