29 Apr Return To The Morrison House
The wind and rain gave the airplane the qualities of a theme park ride. There would be no last round of drinks before landing. The attendants were buckled-in like everyone else. Will had not been to Washington, D. C. in many years and this blustering bath was not going to lend itself to much of a flamboyant spring reunion. He would be as soaked as the cherry blossoms, but that was only if he survived this current rodeo event he was entered in and managed to stay-on the bull well past the mandatory eight seconds, but well past getting the bull back into the chute from whence another came or landed before it. Will was not in the habit of getting sick, though he was at least considering it as an outside possibility now. He thought it now likely that he would. He was actually more concerned that he would get the opportunity to check-in at all to the Morrison House in Old Town Alexandria tonight. His concern about the quality of the accommodations was evaporating on his sweaty brow with every dip in altitude, every sideways shift of their location on the radar, or that he hoped was on someone’s radar. It had been some fifteen, sixteen years since he had stayed there. It was summer then, dry skies, blue, clear, not like today. He earlier had wondered if it were still as nice as it when last he was there, if the staff were as pleasant. He could probably remember how long it had been, if only he could pry his hands loose from the arm rests so he could tighten his seat-belt even tighter before he got sick and passed-out. Yes, he could probably remember if allowed these privileges. He was uncertain as to which of the last two would occur first or if it unimportant due to the plane rolling-over and flying upside down for a while before it made it’s attempt at some sort of record for sideways travel, while upside down.
Will was trying to remember if they had a bar at the Morrison House. They must have, how could they not? He thought they would have a place where a person could go and steady themselves, gather composure after they had auditioned for both the Virginia Flying Circus and possible entry into a place thought to exist beyond the clouds for those with fitful lives. There just had to be. He wondered if his newly repaired fillings were going to stay in his teeth during this ride. He seemed to recall that the Morrison House was very nice, very proper and that the staff friendly and attentive. It was a high hope they had not become surly like most of the business hotels, or most of society for that part, and only interested in getting him in and getting him out. In the worst way, he wanted this not to be the case. They would be understanding and helpful when he came-in sobbing, begging for someone to please make things quit moving and could they please point him to the bar and could they please pour him a drink in a container the size usually reserved for the potting of large plants and any kind of chair or seat that was not moving? Please. Oh, and a room. Surely this was possible in the event that survival of this paint-shaker was achieved and that he was either able to deplane at the conclusion under his own power or that there were a few people left that were physically up to the task of carrying him off, in the event that he failed the before mentioned. One could hope. Will was into the airport terminal before he realized that he was actually moving under a room. Surely this was possible in the event that survival of this paint-shaker was his own power, and not sideways or up and down. It was possible that he had fainted and had regained consciousness inside on that he ran off the plane and had done so at such a pace that the rapidness had made him forget or not realize where he was, which was sort of like always with him, except for the quick part. One or the other, but he just could not get over how fine the inside of Reagan National looked to him. Could be that it was just not being in the plane or that the last time he had been there it had not looked like this.
The name change and sprucing-up of the place made it much better than he had remembered it. The ceiling was impressive, the addition of the shops, It had a more regal feel to it than his last memory of the place. He commented out-loud when he saw it, a woman next to him looking oddly, as if vocalization by oneself was frowned down upon and he should keep his comments to himself because she was with someone and did not wish to be distracted by someone she was unfamiliar with, lest it deter her from her march to her luggage, or where she hoped her luggage might be. Nonetheless, the new look, however old, was quite fine. The normal panorama across the Potomac River was absent today. Rain and clouds had covered the area and there would be no glimpses of the monuments today, it was just amess. Will thought he had looked
out the window, but maybe he had experienced some reticence at the possibility that the jet engines would be a position that he was not used to seeing and that dissuaded him from doing so. He was pretty sure that he always delighted in seeing the sights of the Capital City and had no recall of them this time, so he figured the weather was as dreadful here as it had been during the journey and that historic architecture was just not visible at this time, later, perhaps. Transportation without wings was summoned and this seemed to be a positive at this point of the journey. The driver, who’s accent Will could not quite determine, assured him that it was pretty much a standard rain, nothing out of the ordinary.
The swollen streams that had now formed on either side of and in the median of the roadway said otherwise. Will did not remember three creeks alongside of this road, so perhaps the fellow was following the request of the board of tourism by reinforcing the visitors’ decision that coming here was a good idea and that it was nice here, even if the cherry blossoms looked like so many wet prom dresses and you expected kayaks to appear alongside of and in the middle of the road he was now on. Just trying to project that positive peacefulness and things would find a way of drying-out. Will knew the drive to the Morrison House was not far from the airport. He was not certain of the exact route, but he knew it was not going to be, or supposed to be, a long ride. Unless, of course, they were going to have to paddle or if they were now at risk of getting hung-up on a sandbar and would have to try to grab a long pole from the raging torrent to use to pry themselves loose and push to a better part of the channel. Certainly other cabs would see them and radio the Coast Guard and alert them of their peril. The familiar buildings of Old Town were soon in-sight and this was of great comfort, as Will had not seen any life jackets in the vehicle and he was a lousy swimmer. The buildings looked as he had remembered them and not one of them appeared to be floating or moving. Stationary lodging this evening was really something he looked forward to. He had left the address of the hotel in his bag, which was now in the trunk. He was unable to give that exact
that he was familiar with it and was sure of it’s location. After the fourth pass around the block, Will was starting to be concerned that this was another segment of the journey that seemed to be flawed and he shifted to thinking about the possible difference of locales with this and San Diego, where he had been earlier that day. He was not certain that the weather was great but he was pretty sure it was better than here and that were he there, he would not be adding to an already unsteady condition by driving in circles. At the fourth circumnavigation of that particular city block, it was determined that the hotel was actually right where it had been on the previous three trips past it and that now it would
be within reason to stop this time and go have a look inside. As the charter boat captain had turned his meter off after cruise number one, there no angst over the fare. Not only was the fellow promoting tourism, he was a square businessman. The gently curving staircase entrance at the front, the fountain, yes Will remembered the Morrison House now.
Inside, the pleasant parlor/sitting room just off the entry. It welcomed you back without the usual front door clamor that now was the pathetic stamp of authenticity of the standard business hotels. No outburst at the front of the house, no revolving door, that given the previous activities of the day could have now proved fatal. No line of five people waiting to confirm with the desk that they were going to be dry tonight. No children running amuck, making every possible attempt at testing the tensile strength of the lodging walls. Just a purity of quiet, the wheels of the luggage across the wooden floor registering only the slightest sound vibration. This in itself would be fine. If they could grant him the extra night he had originally requested but unable to obtain over the phone, that would get very close to perfection. If they could get his hands to stop shaking from the flight here, possibly with a reassurance that he was not going to die, at least not here in the lobby, would definitely secure it. Yes, the surroundings of the inn were a tremendous improvement over the downhill freight train he had come from, though it was an improvement over most places and onecould feel relaxed as soon as their entrance was achieved. Will did not feel the furniture moving, no discernable rattling anywhere in the background. He was not looking for oxygen masks to drop out of the ceiling and he could, he believed, go to the bathroom whenever he wished, there was no line, no waiting. When he made his way to the very comfortable bar, the drinks were in actual glass, not plastic, nothing he could discern in miniature, no urging from patrons nor anyone in the employ for him to hurry-up, as they were going to clear the place quickly. No request of permission for him to back away from the bar so that they could pass. No one sneezed or coughed in his face. There was nothing requiring him to strap himself in to the bar stool, though if there long enough, it might be a good idea. This was civilized. It had now slowed to the normal, calm, steady solitude of the always-lonely part of his life. He was grateful to be in this place, as the pace of it took away some of the pain. He stopped looking at his watch the moment he entered the bar. A pause, that is what he needed and they were serving it. He had no idea how long he was there. He thought maybe the section of the parlor where all the books resided might boost his still somewhat shaken center. Some of the people in and responsible for those books might have fine recommendations of places to go, lives to live. There would at least be some company in their company.
The study, that was it, wasn’t it? Would Twain and Hemingway read better after Maker’s Mark, or just read different? Perhaps both. God, how could so many years have passed since he was here? Bob’s wedding was in the adjoining room and everyone was so happy, so vibrant. There may have been drinks prior, he could not remember. That September day, so sunny, a beaming contrast to this shrouded April deluge. Would lifeboats be lowered today? Would we all fit? Certainly there is ample space and we could ride it out for a little while, he hoped. Some were given so much that day at that wedding, some lost some things that day, and it confused him. Some that were with them, no longer were. We hoped so much for all that day. Will sat there in that study gazing at the volumes, the adjacent window flexing ever so slightly with the constant wind, the rain. Again he glanced to the other room, hearing the sound of their voices, the laughter, the sound of leather-soled shoes on the wooden floor. He stood, moving to the edge of one, peering into the other. Silence now. Will was alone. He rubbed his eyes, entered the room. He looked back out of the window, the rain ever-present, then again to the room. The furniture all arranged just so. He could envision a room just like this in his childhood, some relatives long since passed, conversing in a room not dissimilar. No wedding, just a holiday, a weekend get together.
Big tables full of food, pitchers of iced tea, doilies on the furniture arms and backs. It had an older feel to it, a more dignified point in time. A time when needlepoint and dresses for summer were just how it was supposed to be.
The ladies all wore dresses, permanents in their hair, and the men in short-sleeved shirts, slacks, drinking coffee, and smoking. He saw their faces, the faces of the wedding party. He missed those times, those people, the different eras. The pictures blurred now, all moving-by so fast. The get togethers long gone, the people embedded in memory, though he could not even remember when he had last seen them, how long since some had passed. He had only been here that one time for the wedding, yet the rooms evoked some much emotion. He had to sit down. He felt the crinkle of the cut velvet cushion, heard his friends, relatives, asking him if he had had enough to eat. There was plenty more. He did not remember getting back to his room on the fifth floor that night. Did he take the stairs, the elevator? How did he get there, by the window, his fingers pressing gently against the pane, cold, dampening the view? He was supposed to be at this place after all this time. He slipped his shoes off and lay-down on the bed. He wished his friends were there at the hotel with him, the relatives still where he could see them. He closed his eyes, the room not moving, the rain still falling. Tomorrow some of those friends would again be there, some never would. The sleep would be deep, the dreams long, peaceful. This was the night that he returned to the Morrison House.