A hotel room in disarray. A tan suitcase unlocked and lying, with its lid open, on the unused hospital-cornered and turned-down bed; its carefully packed and now lightly creased clothes escaping in a crawl across the dark carpeted floor.
underwear, which had already been unpacked, spills from a hastily
stuffed drawer as if refusing to be confined, so soon, to another
unlit cramped space; a thirties-style hat rakishly placed on the
dressing table looks ill-at-ease in-between the TV and the
hospitality tray with its cup and saucer, plastic kettle, sachets of
instant coffee, Breakfast tea, brown and white sugar and UHT milks; a
floral scarf and black corduroy jacket trail over and across the back
of an upholstered chair which even unadorned would not suggest
comfort; and shoes, singly or in mismatched pairs, are dotted
everywhere, arrogantly upright or placidly on their sides, their
heels and toes at all conceivable angles, which to a maid or porter,
should such a figure happen to enter this picture, would
understandably be a hazard for him or her to pick through, though
possibly less so to the occupant.
female occupant, newly arrived, is however preoccupied, and appears,
like the room, in a mild state of disorder. The tempest, if there was
one, now over, although the evidence seeming to relate to that could
just as easily be the usual way she unpacks after a tiring journey; a
tedious task, no matter how it's achieved, that at present looks as
though it's been stopped mid-flow, as if she simply couldn't be
bothered or needed a quick rest and a few minutes to survey the mess
to galvanise herself once again into purposeful action.
shapely form is seated trance-like on the made bed, her torso hunched
over as if her head is a weight she can no longer carry. Her face is
drawn and pale, framed with wispy blonde hairs, and her light
blue-grey eyes though they stare are not fixed on anything in
some point, she has peeled off the outer clothes she was attired in,
feeling, perhaps, they harboured germs from travel or that her
delicate skin needed to breathe like a wine that is best served at
room temperature, and so she sits in an all-in-one dusky pink
undergarment, which is not unbecoming but not becoming either. It
neutralises her English rose tone, whereas a bolder colour might have
enhanced it, but then she had dressed for comfort not vanity. And of
course it's possible, before this lapse occurred, that a hot shower
was next on the agenda.
maybe the thought of that had been too much: too weary to stand, to
put one foot in front of the other and walk the short distance to the
bathroom, and this had quite literally stopped her in her tracks so
that she just threw herself down and sat. And sat, staring at
nothing. Her eyes and mind suddenly turned vacuous; the battle to
stay alert gone now her destination had been reached and she once
again had the privacy of her own space, her own paid-for room.
can guess, from looking alone, how far away this lone woman is from
home, how many miles she's travelled? What's brought her here, and
where from here she might go? Is she a habitual traveller or was this
a rash decision, in so much as decisions can be rash without advance
planning if you have responsibilities?
she is alone, and seeming somewhat pensive about it, makes one
looking in assume that she is the type, in looks and manner, to be
overly anxious or flighty, even perhaps resentful of the mood in
which she acted: what was it for? what was it about? why is she here?
will she spend her time? Will she dine alone? The adventure worn thin
now that the consequences of doing so have begun to set in and
people surround her, just outside these neutral walls, upon which at
least one is hung a bland landscape; just across the corridor or in a
room a floor above or two below, other occupants in a not too
dissimilar position, are, with glazed eyes, as is the woman
described, reaching for their handbag or briefcase to delve inside
and bring out a yellowed piece of paper on which a faded bus or train
timetable is printed. For to each of them the point is the journey,
and not, as they are doing now, sitting still.
Picture credit: Hotel Room, 1931, Edward Hopper