Hotels, JFK and Time Travel

imgres-1 The soft, calming light. The beautiful fall weather outside. College football on TV, and dinner plans later. We’ll go out to eat somewhere, I’ll order my Diet Cokes, and we’ll enjoy lively conversation. Hotels warm my soul. Knowing they’re always there, illuminated, clean and welcoming. Fantasizing about booking a room on a whim, flocking to a beautiful anonymity, ensconced in the comfortable coolness of fall. I have nothing on the horizon. I’ll get up, get food, exercise, walk to the house in jeans, the nostalgia surging through me like a current. I’ll head to Chuck’s, get some food, eat too fast and continue exploring, the leaves swishing around me as I sink deeper into sentimentality. Utter bliss and wonder. Of course, it’s natural to associate good feelings with hotels. Ideally, we stay in hotels when we’re escaping. On vacation with family. The cleanliness, the fresh smells, the devastatingly cozy beds are tightly linked with the pleasures and comforts of family. Over time, though, I’ve come to develop a yearning for the hotel itself. I do miss the days when my grandparents and extended family would convene; those were beautiful, full times. But the hotel has an inherent charm to me. I love to imagine traveling by myself from hotel to hotel indefinitely, filling the days with contemplation, bathing, music and eating out, movies, exercise and reading. The pitch-black room, the AC whirring to life periodically, the exquisitely soft mattress and sheets complete my cosmic escape to purity.

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At 12:30 p.m. on November 22, 1963, John F. Kennedy’s head exploded on a street in Downtown Dallas. That happened. The passage of time and the event’s further cementation into the foundation of history do not mitigate the acuity of that fact. That happened. People gather on a sunny Friday to get a view of JFK and Jackie in all their majesty. They would pass by in the brilliant midnight blue limousine, the American and presidential flags billowing majestically at the front of the car. A local businessman was one of the many who decided to film the motorcade as it passed by. He chose a pedestal in Dealey Plaza as his vantage point. The anticipation. Waiting to see the most famous couple in the world. Finally, the Lincoln rounds the corner onto Elm Street. Few people notice a rifle barrel protruding from the window of a warehouse overlooking the street. A mere matter of seconds later, the president’s life ends in a shower of brain matter and tragedy. The flame was extinguished with a brutal and devastating suddenness. It’s been almost 51 years, but those six seconds are forever frozen in time, and they forever will be.

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I prefer “travel back in time” to “time-travel,” despite the latter being more efficient and probably correct, and despite me wasting ink to note these things. If I were to travel back in time, I would go to January 1, 1950. New Year’s Day. The glorious 50s have begun. Larry David is not even three years old. John Lennon and Paul McCartney have yet to attain the age of 10. John F. Kennedy hasn’t even reached the U.S. Senate. I would spawn on the future property of my childhood home, and I’d take it all in.  My parents are not yet in existence. This is my neighborhood, where infinite memories will be formed, nostalgia will coalesce and the foundation of my life will be laid.

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