A Motel Project
Later that year, he came to the City to see me. I’m not really sure what he told his wife, but he stayed through Sunday. I let him drive my car way out to Carnasie where he got us a room. He was always doing that, paying for us to get a room. We could have stayed at my place but it just didn’t seem appropriate. There’s a way you can only be really honest with someone, if you’re paying by the night.
That was the time I’d outfitted myself in JR’s discarded button down shirt. I was wearing these stockings that came up to my thigh. When I took my panties off, I left on my high heeled shoes. I put on a real slow show for JR, and he’d take pictures with his Hasselblad. The room smelled full of cigarettes and sex; afternoon was coming in through the partially-closed patterned drapes. A half empty bottle of Jack sat right on the nightstand in a bucket of ice, fast melting. I’d wished so desperately that the daylight wouldn’t end. It was so beautiful and sad, coming in through those heavy curtains.
I was lying on the unmade bed when JR told me a story about this time he’d been out in LA. How he walked around all day by himself. He had this feeling, the kind where you just couldn’t shake it. It was mostly because he’d been cheating again. He didn’t feel bad about it, really. That was the hardest part. So, I guess he had to come to terms with that. He began writing these letters, you know, apology letters to people that he wouldn’t ever send. And he wrote them all on these pieces of hotel stationary. One by one, he wrote these letters and then he just let them drop to the ground as he walked around. He just left them there, for whatever was to come of it. He left all those words and feelings and everything back in California. He knew then. Zebras don’t change their stripes.
Afterwards I lay there as he grabs his camera. He starts taking my picture so I go to move about the room. I reach for more ice and refill my glass. It's so quiet and the click click of the camera sticks. It carves into my brain and keeps me going. He rips out the polaroids to expose the film, letting the photographs drop down onto the floor. He tells me what to do and I listen. I do what R--tells me to do.
I can't stand to look at the clock on the bedside table but I see how the lights changing through the window. I know he'll have to leave soon. I watched the light changing and I think it was then that I realized I was glad he'd be going. It hurts so much sometimes, being so close to something just as much removed.
As we drove on, I motioned at a sign for Bethpage. I'd remembered there was a little roadside motel in town. We got off the LIE, M was pulling in just as the snow had started to fall. I got out and booked us a room for the night. We sat in his truck for a few minutes smoking. It was one of those earlier models that was always cold and smelling of cigarettes and something vaguely metallic.
He was asking a lot of questions and I wondered in passing if he was fixin to play me. It occurred to me he's the kinda person that always has an agenda he'll never reveal to you.
Afterwards we took turns taking showers. While he was going, I poured the last of the whiskey into one of those individually wrapped plastic cups next to the ice bucket and I drank it while sitting alone on the messed up bed.
Later he drove me back to my parent’s house. I was looking out the window, trying not to talk when he said that he was real sorry for how things had turned out before. That he knows I deserve more than all that.
I think that he really meant it, when he said it then. But I just couldn't care about any of it anymore.
Even though I no longer had any expectations for us, it was so hard to let go. I kept thinking about what if and if maybe and then you’d call. I wanted it to mean something precisely because it had never become anything. But it was there. We were there. By some small stretch of the imagination, it was real.
I want to know US. But I feel only fragments. Even when I couldn’t stand you, I would still let the memory of your correspondence haunt me. Enough so that eventually, we’d be talking again. Fucking again. I wanted more for my life but I was afraid to ask it from you. Ask it from me.
Everything’s so depressing when you tell the god’s honest truth.