Michigan to Ottawa

My first day of driving into the night. Heartsick, I turned my thoughts on Tiana and a shooting star came down from the sky like a flick of ash from a cigarette. I decided this would be my last night on the road, and that I would keep pushing on. Outside Ottawa I finally stopped for a red “MOTEL” sign lit in huge neon block letters atop a tremendous tower, high as to be seen from the freeway. “KC’s Country Inn” was its unlikely name. I went to the front desk (that doubled as a diner counter) with wide hallucinating pupils and rasped, “I’d like to get a room,” to a tall thin blonde—archetypal French Canadian—mascara eyed woman, who’d been snapping something at her lap dog in French. She had me sign some papers and gave me my key. The hallways were dark, thick, and smelled like cigarettes. The room was gray and wilted, decorated with pink and black surrealist Japanese art on brick walls. It had two queen size beds, and an army cot was folded up against the door. I thought staying in a motel would be a luxurious change after five nights of sleeping on the ground, but it felt much more lonesome, grimy, and foreign than camping. I clutched my bottle of wine on the bedside table, thinking of the Tom Waits’ song I had listened to through Ottawa, “In the motel bed, you take on the dreams of all who slept there before you.”

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