By Paul McGuire © 2006
Hotels come in two categories for me: clean and dirty.
I've been staying in so many over the past two years that I finally decided upon the proper category. I've stayed in Five Star joints with marble shitters and mints on the pillows and also in places that would make you shiver at the site with caked in semen and blood stains of the wall and things with more than ten legs crawling on the floor of the bathroom. I sleep in my clothes in those places to avoid the flea bites or contracting the bird flu.
Here I am again, sitting in a hotel room, trying to fend off the maids who can't read the "Do not disturb" sign on the door. What's the point of having those if they are gonnabarge in anyway?
The Treasure Island in Las Vegas is a nice hotel and falls under that clean category. I have a view of the moutains and can see Red Rock Canyon from my room. The room has a decent vibe. Some hotel rooms freak me out because I can sense that bad shit went down at some point in the room. Perhaps a hopeless suicide or a vile porn shoot or a shady drug deal gone bad.
Over the past two years, the incessant insomnia has been running its worst stretch through my mind and body. I figured out that part of the reason I can't sleep (well I can fall asleep -- I just wake up and can't fall back) is that I'm waking up in a dfferent place every few weeks. Everything is different. The pillows. The beds. The room temperature. The outside noises.
"Where am I again?"
That's what I ask myself when I'm jarred awake from a dream, in a dark room and totally lost and my mind racing. Am I in Barcelona? Las Vegas? Los Angeles? New York City? Colorado? Rhode Island? Amsterdam? It take me a few minutes to remember where I am. Who I am. What I am.
No wonder I can't fall back asleep. I'm redefining my existenece every night. The most time I spent in one place over the past two years has been in Las Vegas for 2.5 months last summer. My stint in that hell hole made me Fast Food Nation fat and Dostoeveskian crazy. It took me several months, but I shed the pounds and gained back some of my sanity. However, I've been marked for life by the undercurrent of doom in Las Vegas.
The sharp teeth of depression sinks into my skin and draws blood late at nights when I'm sitting alone in a hotel room and there's nothing on TV and I've smoked all my drugs and I have no one to talk to and I'm creatively bankrupt and I'm so friggin' exhausted that I can't sleep. Doesn't matter if it's a clean or dirty one hotel, I still freak out and lose my shit.
Even if it's in Spain or Tennessee, I have the same feeling... I have to get up, pack up, and go someplace else that is not home.
When you have a bad day, an awful bloody day when you're on the verge of a killing spree or on the brink a messy suicide... you still have that comfort of crawling into bed, crying your eyes out, rolled up in the fetal position. That's the last bastion of comfort to save yourself before you slip off the edge.
I haven't had that for two years. And I've had plenty of bad days. When I'm lost... I'm utterly helpless and drifting to God knows where.
I have one more day of intense labor in a casino environment. Then I'll have about a week of hellacious deadlines before I can escape from the demons and ghosts of Las Vegas.
"Someday I'll get to go home," I keep telling myself. If I can ever figure out where that is. I love being on the road. But I'm afraid I've been away for too long that I'll never find my way back.
Paul McGuire is a writer from New York City.