Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Random access
My friend Jeannine Brenier has a line in her act that has stayed with me for decades. Talking about her career, She said,"You know how they say it's lonely at the top, well it's jammed right up here in the middle." I'm not sure what my show biz ranking is nor who decides but I am sure that loneliness is not exclusive to any rank. Even if you travel with an entourage you find yourself watching CNN alone in some hotel room trying to fall asleep.

That is where I find myself tonight, in a Crown Plaza hotel room near the Miami airport waiting to join a ship in 48 hours. I can't count the number of hotel rooms I have occupied in my career. After I filled a large cardboard box with the plastic card keys from places I stayed I stopped counting. I had an idea that some day I would cover the walls of my office with a hotel key mosaic. That is less appealing now than when I started keeping them. All hotels look alike to me now and even the best with the most beautiful decor feels cold and Spartan. It is a space you occupy but never claim as your own space. Home is where your heart is and I have never found my "heart" in a hotel room.

They have me on the Executive floor. Other than a small private lounge featuring morning coffee with continental breakfast and the necessity of a card key to access the floor, I don't notice the Executive additions.

Signage in both English and Spanish proclaims the entire floor a "quiet zone", information that should be shared with the planes landing at Miami International near by. The sign suggests ways to keep the "zone" quiet. It says, "Between the hours of 9:30pm and 9:30am please keep your television volume to a minimum, do not slam your door, keep conversations down especially in the hallway and NO LOUD SINGING IN THE SHOWER."
In my years of staying in hotels I can't remember a single time when my solitude was disturbed by "loud singing in the shower" nor did I know this was a big problem for Inn keepers.

CNN has started to repeat its programing so it must be time to go to sleep. In the morning I will try to remember where I am until I totally wake up and look around. The first thing I will comprehend fully is the fact that I am not home, I am living the glamorous life of show business.
As you were,


P. Grecian said...

Makes you feel a bit disconnected, doesn't it?
I just got back from Vancouver, where a theatre was producing one of my plays for the fourth year in a row. Before that, Syracuse for a different play. I've visited both of these companies before, and have made friends with them so that, while business is always discussed and agreements are made, I'm glad to see these two companies of people. There is some serious hugging when we meet each year.
I will visit them again, as well as others (Every December I try to hit my friends' companies and one new one). It keeps me out in the real world--a problem sometimes for a writer--and the friendships that have developed are warm and, for me, a part of the season.
The travel isn't exhausting so much as the angst over the cattle drive at the airports and the fear of missing a connecting flight and being stranded forever in a strange airport, living out my final days eating overpriced food and brushing my teeth in public rest rooms.
But the hotel rooms are really lonely and sterile and uncaring, even when they are elegant.

Funny, in my youth, taking a show on the road was fun.
These days I find myself worrying about friends and family at home and worrying about the dogs, boarded at the vet...and yearn to return to the nest.

I know what you mean, Jay. My thoughts are with you. Have I remembered to wish you a Happy New Year? If not, here it is.

And may you have a safe and easy journey back home when the time comes.

Bob Conrad said...

It is funny how we all dream of the "Big Time" and being that big success. There are times when I envy you working the cruise ships and seeing the world, and me doing school assemblies. I do a few hundred shows each year and am reasonably comfortable, but my biggest asset is I get to home most every night. I only spend a few nights a year in a hotel, and I hate it. I wouldn't have it any other way, I guess I kind of have my cake and eat it too. Happy New Year, safe journey home.