Always, the smell of rain.
The innkeeper has been to the U.S., where her daughter is a professional ice skater. Imagine being paid to be excruciatingly graceful. Imagine your mother hanging pictures of you, a sequin swan, in her hotel 1,500 miles away.
I meet my flat mates tomorrow. I haven't met any students yet, except one, a philosophy major at IKEA who finds my sloth attacks on the British card reader hysterical.
"Our card-gummys are really stupid." An expert on card swiping as the act applies to God, Freud, and the Human Condition, he swipes my Visa, just swipes it in the manner of a food critic fluffing his napkin after a delicious yet unsurprising meal.
"It's the same in the U.S. Just a different brand of stupidity." The Humanities: where philosophers and readers of Rilke bond over a shared cynicism of things that go bleep in the night.
When I get back to the Hotel 100, I stand under the chandelier and wonder:
What the fuck am I doing 1,500 miles away from everyone I care about, a small fish--microscopic plankton, really--in an ocean where you need a degree in philosophy to swipe a credit card? What if I find out I'm not talented? What if everyone hates me for ending my sentences with the phrase "so yeah"?
Homesick, I flip through The New York Times. "There's not much news in your news," says Abby, a fellow guest visiting family for Chinese New Year.
She's referring to an article about the Republican primaries. Mitt Romney embarrassed himself in a debate. Suddenly I'm not so homesick.
"It's the American Tradition. We call it Yellow Journalism, which isn't yellow so much as bloody neon." I try flipping to the Comics, remember there are none. "Our politicians are vampires. It's a beautiful country with lots of vampires. I'm a vampire too. So yeah."