Pins, Needles, Valley, and Fog.
We looked across the valley to where the other hotel was. It was shaped like a castle with pointy gables and rooftops. The building likely hid spiral staircases leading up to the rooms while the windows overlooked the valley, which was being shrouded by the arrival of the early evening fog.
I looked at our own hotel on this side of the mountain. It had seemed luxurious on the night we came here but in the light of the diffused sunset, it was rather humble and austere.
We were exhausted that night. It was dark and raining. Before we got here, we had spent the day traveling up the western coast. I realized it now, towards the last few days, that we had spent as much time on buses and in the back of taxi cabs as we had spent doing normal things. Since time was already limited, it felt hollow spending it this way. I pushed it out of mind.
“It’s kind of shabby isn’t it?” I said to Jenny.
She was just getting out of the Nissan that Chen, the innkeeper, used to ferry hotel guests to and from town.
“I know. I regret,” she said. She frowned and whimpered. “Look at the castle!”
On second thoughts, the pointy gables and roofs seemed tacky and out of place. None of it belonged here. This was no place for castles.
I was too old (not old enough yet) for that shit and to be fair, I was satisfied with our room. I found no problems. True that it was very cold on the first night and it lacked heating. There was also a startling lack of anything within the immediate surrounding area—we asked Chen if there was anything close that we could walk to for a late dinner; he smiled and said he would drive us later—but it was nothing that we couldn’t adjust to. We huddled the blankets closer and closed the gaps. Chen took us to the 7-Eleven in the valley below and we stocked up on Calbee chips, instant noodle bowls, a bottle of Shiraz, and a six pack of Heineken’s. We would only be here for a two nights and it was all that we needed.
“I like our place. It’s completely fine. We don’t need any kind of castle,” I said while thinking about last night, preparing a mental map that connected the dots from place to place. The route looked something like a “Q”.
By the time I could respond to Jenny, we were already walking up the stairs back to our room. It was a tiring day. I wished we had a sewing needle and some threat so that I could patch the pair of jeans I tore while trying to climb a fence. I tore it right at the thigh. For the entire day, I had kept the torn fabric in place by pinning a button, that we got at a gift shop, to them.
Before breakfast this morning, we had washed some of our clothes and hung them out to dry on the balcony. We thought they would be finished by the time we got back to the room but it was too late, the fog had rolled back in and swept past the second story of the building. Though the shirts and shorts were still moist and cold we brought them back in anyway. She finished the wine while I eased her against me on the edge of the bed. Draping my coat around her like you would for a stray cat.
There are two days left. Tomorrow we will go back to city, the real city. I wondered when we would be able to travel like this again. If ever. And I wondered when we would ever be the same. I knew this was not likely but braced myself for it anyway. This was a fantasy trip. We knew nothing about each other before this. If we came to our senses, I wondered what we would think about all of this. None of this was very objective of course. Objectivity would shatter all the castles.