For one of my classes, we were asked to describe ourselves as a hotel. Simple enough task, but I found it… intriguing. In the example we were given, the author eventually tied the hotel back to himself. It has been fun to write and an interesting exercise that I encourage you to do as well. It will challenge you as a writer and you have to look at yourself as well. Are you a ritzy, New York hotel, a small Super 8, or, in my case, a bed and breakfast?
On the back roads, surrounded by forest and backed by a pond, is a three-story bed and breakfast. The outside is a drab brown, with disjointed sides as if each new owner decided to add another level. The uninformed pass by with barely a glance, overlooking its existence at first. Others seek it out for the escape and relaxation it provides.
Inside, the bed and breakfast holds unexpected surprises. It is the kind of hotel that works around a theme, in this case books. Books line all of the walls, even the spiral staircase, and only the bedroom walls are bare. Every month, the books change so that visitors can never find the same book twice. Ladders roll around the shelves, even up and down the stairs, allowing patrons the chance to browse at their leisure. Unbeknownst to the proprietors, the ladders are sometimes put to use as a fast way down the stairs, so a long walk turns into a quick ride. Children have often been heard screaming with joy as they rush downwards and then scramble up to the top to start again.
The bedrooms are quaint, with functional furniture, striped red and orange bedcovers, and walls painted an earthy brown or green. Boring upon first glance. But the pictures in each room make even the most traveled art enthusiast stop and stare. They are all landscapes, some with castles, others mountains, and even one or two of the sea. But it isn’t the subject matter that makes people stop. It is the color and the detail. The white crest of the wave as it slams against a ship and the clear drop of rain that tantalizingly hangs upon a leaf are so clearly depicted that many guests find themselves reaching out to see if it is real.
The proprietors are an older couple, congenial and happy for visitors. They make the best lasagna in town; just ask anybody. The man is always quick to regale others in tales of how he fought in the war while the woman snaps at him to stop his tomfoolery, he never served in a war, and you look tired, would you like some fresh chocolate chip cookies, dear?
I happily take one as a tromp slowly up the spiral staircase to the very top where there is a room that most guests don’t know about, mainly due to their unwillingness to climb three sets of stairs. The ceiling is made entirely of windows and I often come here to just lie and stare at the sky. But it is nighttime now and my eyes fix upon the Big Dipper as I slowly fall asleep to the chorus of croaking frogs, knowing that in the morning I will wake up to the chirrups of songbirds and the sun warming my face.