A sometimes inevitable part of the expat experience is a prolonged hotel stay. We’re now going on almost a month (minus the 3 nights we spent in our flat before we moved out) with another three weeks to go in our current place. The previous month was spent in hotels in Belgium, a little extended stay in Amsterdam (not planned), a friend’s lovely borrowed apartment in a resort in Abu Dhabi, and now here in Baltimore.
While I’m sure claustrophobia will inevitably set in (after all, we’re two humans and two cats in a single room) I can’t help but feel a bit like Eloise. Or maybe a worldly writer, recently returned from adventures abroad, arriving with a pile of bags and pets and cooling her heels while catching up on correspondence and plotting her next adventure.
The Residence Inn is probably not as glamorous as the Plaza or any of these gems, but it’s “home” for now. And after so many weeks of bouncing around, it’s nice to just be able to stay put for a bit. And this room is cozy and convenient.
After everything that has happened, not just in the past few weeks but the past few years, I’ll be standing in our tiny kitchenette scrambling some eggs for breakfast with the morning news on – the same talking heads that have been talking at me for years – and the sounds of rush hour traffic honking by and I’ll have a moment of time folding over and in on itself. As though all those years of running all over the globe didn’t happen, and I’m just here – in Baltimore – as you were as it were, cooking breakfast and getting ready for the day. And then it all comes rushing back and I realize how different things are now, how different we are. How much more appreciative I am of something as uninspiring as scrambling eggs and listening to a commentator warn me about the radiation from my cell phone.
Some tips for hotel living:
- Buy a pair of scissors. Your room won’t have any, and at some point you’ll need them. Trust me on this one.
- Make friends with the hotel and housekeeping staff. You’ll see the same faces every day for awhile, and they work hard to make the hotel feel welcoming for you.
- Get out of the hotel as much as possible. Even if you’re jetlagged/overwhelmed/stressed, go for a walk, go work in a cafe, but change the scenery as much as possible. If you have to spend weeks on end there, you want it to feel like a comforting place to be and not a prison.
- Get some space from your roommates as much as possible. This includes both husband and cats. You love them to the moon and back but you want to enjoy their company and not drive everyone up the wall with too much close proximity.
- Buy groceries and cook as much as possible. Eating out gets expensive and old. There are tons of healthy things you can throw together in a kitchenette. This week I did an easy quinoa pasta-tomato sauce-chopped swiss chard-spicy turkey sausage meal and chicken and brown rice fajitas with salsa, leftover swiss chard, and some low-fat cheese. Both required 2 pots/pans total and about 20 minutes to throw together, plus we had leftovers from both.
- Put as much stuff away as you can and put your empty suitcases in the closet. Rummaging around in a suitcase for your clothes everyday is as tiring as it is annoying. Plus, it creates much more space in your hotel room and helps you feel a bit more settled.
- Fresh flowers make a space feel MUCH more home-like! These cheerful blooms are from my mom, AND we can pot them once we find a more permanent living situation:
I’m sure in a few weeks we’ll be clawing at the doorframe to get out, but for now this is as settled as we’ve felt in awhile. We’re not selling off our belongings or planning a big move, and while we’re not “home” yet (the search is on for a more permanent residence!) this is a restful spot to chill for awhile.