The best place in the world to feel lonely is a hotel room.
The soft yet unfamiliar bed, the nice but somehow lacking view from the window, the mini-fridges with their mini-refreshments, and the impeccably clean bathroom with the tiny packets of soap and shampoo; these were the sights Tiffany was accustomed to, and it all made her feel lonely.
It was even worse when she was staying in an airport hotel. The sounds of the planes traveling through the air above her would echo in her head, somehow reminding her that she was far away from home.
But Tiffany didn’t know where to find her home anymore. She had an apartment, but it was so rarely used and only used because it was close to her office building, it hardly felt like a real, good, warm home to go back to at the end of a long work day.
And so Tiffany was lonely. She sat in the hotel room, perched on the end of the hotel bed, absently flicking hotel peanuts into the hotel ashtray some distance away on the hotel coffee table. The peanuts had seemed like a good snack at first, even at their expensive price, but to her they tasted like air and nothing more.
She had a meeting in less than twenty minutes. It was an important meeting, a fact which she was reminded of with every thick tick and tock of the hotel clock.
A month ago she had been in another hotel room, listening to the same ticking of a hotel clock. The sharpness had pervaded the midnight silence, but she didn’t mind it in the slightest, because she was staring at Taeyeon. Taeyeon, who had fallen asleep after much tossing and turning and quiet deliberating, whose closed eyes were now relaxed as she finally rested well. The stress still haunted her features, crinkling a little line between her eyebrows, and Tiffany resisted the powerful, almost overwhelming urge to reach across the bed and comfort her. She had to resist. Taeyeon was not from the same empty, routine world as Tiffany. Taeyeon had the freedom, the chance to find the happiness that Tiffany had somehow misplaced at some point earlier during her youth.
The rented car had no smell. She took a deep breath as she clicked the door shut behind her, but nothing was there. The files in her hand hit the passenger seat as the rest of her body moved through the motions of igniting the car’s engine.
I’m in a rented car, with a hotel room close by. I’m thinking of you because when I’m away from home, I think of home, and you are my home. I’ve never spent as much time in one location as I have in your heart. I miss you. I love you.
Next week she would be in another hotel room. It had been amusing at first, entertaining, to be able to travel so much at her young age. She was seeing new places, feeling new atmospheres. She would take a lengthy series of photos of every little thing in the hotel room, in the rented car, on the streets as she drove to meetings and conferences and those all-important career opportunities that kept her moving onwards and upwards. But after so many rolls of pictures, the excitement wore off and disappeared altogether. She knew these places, she knew these feelings, and they were not all that fascinating anymore.
Please stop contacting me. It hurts me to see you so hurt because I’m hurting you. Do you understand? Maybe it only makes sense to me because I’m drunk. These bottles are tiny and expensive but hotel liquor is not all that bad after all. Please stop calling me, finding out what country I’m in, using your credit card to come visit me. Just don’t. You know how much I miss you and that is all I can give you anymore.
Tiffany was good at what she did. Organisations right around the world wanted her expertise, her knowledge and ideas, her reputation for fixing and mixing and sending every business she worked with to the top. She thought she should stick to what she was good at, keep doing what she knew to do, because it was all she had in the end.
She was stuck in traffic again, staring at the blaring red light that kept her from her journey. Whenever she wasn’t moving, her thoughts turned to Taeyeon. It was simply the way it was. She needed to be moving at all times or else she would think about Taeyeon.
I’m sick of it. I don’t like the empty warmth of hotel rooms, the quiet throbbing of a rented engine. I like you. I like the way you hold me and smile at me and it’s been an eternity since I’ve seen you, and even longer since I’ve seen you smile. Smile for me?
When Tiffany got back to her hotel room late that evening, she tipped back a little bottle of something boozy and tossed her jacket over the back of a chair.
Then she got around to flicking on the light switch.
And then she answered the knock on the door.
And Taeyeon stood there, brighter than the day had been, grinning like a hooligan. She seemed to know exactly what Tiffany was about to say, because she hopped into the room before Tiffany could even think to close it, and she wrapped Tiffany in a warm, wonderful hug.
“I know you don’t think this is good for us,” she said right away, without wasting time on small talk or excuses. “I know you think this is an unhealthy relationship, being apart all the time with no end in sight. You’re right, in a way. But we’re not dead, and this relationship isn’t dead.”
Tiffany sighed. It was the weary sigh she always brought out, almost automatically now, whenever they discussed it. It was the sigh that carried her sadness, her love. Taeyeon knew it as well as she did, sound for sound, unspoken word for word.
She didn’t bother to continue with anything else. She simply circled her arms around Taeyeon and tucked them together.
Sometimes, a hotel room can be the best place to feel like being in a separate little world of your own.