Things were more expensive the closer you were to the first arrondissement. It wasn’t like I couldn’t afford a spectacular hotel with a beautiful view. I deliberately chose a smaller, cheaper hotel further away. I wanted something that grounded me to reality, something to remind me to be humble –humble like Hannah. I didn’t want things to get to my head. I needed some sort of reminder that there was more to life than material things. Hannah was the one who proved that to me in the short time we were together. I could have all the fancy clothes, delicious food, and fantastic drinks that I wanted. They didn’t make up for the simple blessing that was spending time with her.
In the last couple of months, I started booking hotel rooms with smaller beds. I used to love sleeping in massive beds. I liked to starfish, take up as much room as humanly possible. But now, it felt too damn lonely to have all that empty space surrounding me, nothing to hold me close except for my spare pillows and blankets. When the bed was smaller, I didn’t feel so bad.
I sat down on the edge of the mattress and wondered what Hannah was up to. I wondered if she was still working at the hotel. Had she moved on yet? I couldn’t blame her if she had. I hoped she was happy, wherever she was. Because I sure as hell wasn’t.
I snapped up the television remote control and flicked through the channels. I knew enough French that I could at least understand some of what was being said on screen. There was nothing but teledramas, all dealing with broken hearts or missed connections or passionate affairs. I had to wonder if the universe was mocking me, laughing directly at my face that I’d missed my one chance at something truly real.
I was so pissed.
I booked my hotel room weeks before arriving, and now this dickhead behind the counter was telling me no reservation was made. My French wasn’t even passable, so I couldn’t explain myself very well. And it didn’t help that the receptionist had a terribly thick accent.
“Can you please just check again?” I asked, exasperated. “I’m exhausted. I just got off my flight and I need a place to stay.”
“Je ne comprends pas ce que vous dites.”
“Shit,” I cussed.
“Okay, okay. I think we got off on the wrong foot here.” I sighed. “Just… Are there any rooms available? Une nouvelle chambre?”
The man behind the counter seemed to understand me and turned to his computer, rapidly typing something into the system. He hit enter and the computer dinged at him.
“Okay,” he said, heavily accented. “Une nouvelle chambre.”
“Combien?” I asked.
He scribbled the amount on a piece of paper. It luckily wasn’t as expensive as I thought it was going to be considering the last minuteness of this whole situation. I nodded reluctantly and forked over the cash. In return, he handed me a key.
With a bit of struggle, I dragged my suitcase behind me. It had a wobbly wheel, so it was a little difficult to control. As it turned out, the hotel’s elevator wasn’t working, so I had to lug my things up three flights of stairs before I finally arrived on my floor. My racing heart, burning lungs, and sweaty brow were all clear indications that I needed to work out more. I stalked down the hall, so tired that I could barely keep my eyes open. I located my room number and struggled to get the key in the lock.
It had been a couple of weeks since the hotel let me go. I wasn’t fired or anything. It was just that we were entering a slower period, and the hotel didn’t have the budget to keep their entire staff on. My supervisor said he’d be happy to rehire me next season and even sent me off with a healthy bonus for all the late nights I wound up working. I took it as a sign, really. I needed to get away from the hotel for a little while. Everything reminded me of William too much. I had to deliver a bottle of champagne to one of our VIP guests one evening and nearly broke down into tears because it was the same brand he’d shared with me.
Yeah, I definitely need a change of scenery.
I had always wanted to visit Paris, so I took the opportunity to do a little bit of solo travelling. I was excited to take a ton of pictures, maybe queue up some interesting shots to post to my rarely used Instagram page. I heard travel Instagrams were super popular these days. I could bring myself to smile in the pictures I took, but I alone knew the truth. The image I presented of myself was that of a carefree youngblood. But inside, I was hurting. Hurting and lonely and nobody wanted to see that on their feed.