I have many stories about both wonderful and terrible things that have happened in hotels. So many, in fact, that I felt overwhelmed by this prompt and the many directions I could take in my writing... But I've finally settled on one - a terrible one, but part of my story nonetheless.
The darkest moment in my life, the one that my girl-cat Azul helped me gut out, happened in a hotel in Copacabana. I'd fled our beautiful Casa Rosa in a taxi that afternoon, convinced that I was being pursued by an obsessed neighbor who I'd been told had a gun and had come knocking on our gate looking for me while I was out. Not knowing where to go, and not feeling safe at home or with friends, I fled to a familiar hotel on the beach- the Olinda Othon.
Years before, my mom and I had stayed in this same hotel when she came to visit me in Brasil during my exchange year. There was something comforting about being in a place where I'd spent time with my mom, almost as if residual parts of her being were mixed in with the dust on the marble windowsill of the hotel room, ready to protect me and give me strength.
In the height of my paranoia, I purchased a room using a fake name and paid in cash. Before even going up to the room, I sat at a computer in the hotel's internet café and promptly changed all the passwords for my e-mail accounts and internet banking. I'd been tipped off (by the same person that told me I was being stalked and had to leave the Casa Rosa immediately) that my neighbor, an IT genius, had hacked into my accounts and gotten access to all of my personal information. When I finally got everything changed, I went up to my hotel room, shoved a heavy wooden chair under the doorknob and took the phone off the hook. Then I started to cry.
I wasn't alone on this day in the Olinda Othon. Along with me, and not understanding anything that was going on, was my boyfriend at the time. He'd flow to Brasil to have a vacation with me before we were supposed to move to Austin together. It was supposed to be the most romantic trip ever, but it turned out horribly. He sat looking at me with wide eyes, urging me to call the police or the American Consulate, or my laywer to take care of the situation. I refused. There's nothing like feeling guilty and ashamed to make all logical thoughts get stuck in the mud, especially when you know deep down that you are to blame for the whole mess. We sat for hours on the 1940's style beds until I worked up enough courage to tell my story, the sequence of events that ended up with us in this hotel room, scared to death and confused, facing the end of our relationship.
Once my story was out, the anger came, then the pain, then more tears, then the feeling that all was lost in this world. It was a horrible night, most of which I spent perched on the edge of the blue-tiled bathtub feeling numb and wishing I could go back in time.
I made it through to the next morning, and we set out in a black car with black tinted windows to go to the airport. We'd changed our trip plans the night before were booked on the first flight back to the US. We had separate seats, at his request. I felt for the first time what it is like to have caused someone so much disappointment and grief that they literally can't stand to be in yoru presence. I flew home with a horrible feeling in my stomach, genuinely afraid that I'd single-handedly ruined my life and that I'd never again be happy.
It took a while, and the images and words from that night in the Olinda Othon still haunt me on occasion, but I'm healed and happier than I ever thought possible...
For more hotel stories, click here.
EDITED slightly about 2 hours after posting, when I realized that certain small but critical details were either missing or unclear.