After bidding Egor goodbye at 4:00 am this morning, I got a touch of rest before setting off to Boston. We left around 2 pm with Mom perched in the backseat to entertain Liev as I drove. An hour later, when traffic and off-ramps multiplied, I realized that the sound from the back seat becomes amplified by a factor of four when I don’t know where I am going. The normally quiet clicking of his Monkey Speller sounded like a tiny ball-peen hammer rapping on the windshield behind me. My grumpy complaints clued Liev into the excitement of whizzing cars and precipitous exits and he repeated his interpretation of everything the GPS says. Mom, also anxious and trying to be helpful piped up, adding to my distraction and frustration. Mom I can ask to be quiet, but Liev has to be stuffed with cheesy-poofs to ensure silence. We ran out of cheesy-poofs.
Our hotel, a Holiday Inn Express, looked surprisingly worn and shabby. I had forgotten the difference between big city and suburban accommodations. We could have been in an unlovely segment of France specifically built for budget-minded Americans. The narrow sooty streets, ancient misshapen pavement, and clunky undersized elevators were much the same. Our third-floor room was hot, close and dark. After partially unpacking, we discovered that the air conditioner was missing its dials and segments of paneling. It did not work. The only window was sealed closed and painted over at the bottom. To circulate the air, we turned on a dilapidated desk fan which creaked halfheartedly, tipped precariously to the left and ceased to function.
I fumed down the heaving elevator, ready for a fight if they did not give us a new room. The girl at the front desk cheerfully gave us a new room, as if we were expected to refuse our room, but had to be sent there anyway–for procedure’s sake.
What a difference the change made! For the same price, we got double the room and six times the windows—a spacious corner room overlooking an athletic center and the adjacent building. I could not believe that the two rooms existed in the same hotel. True, our light and airy room didn’t sparkle, but it was far lovelier than the tumbledown closet they sent us to first. After a hasty unpacking, we took off for a nearby pub which prided itself as the “Best Sports Bar in America.” Exhausted, I did not savor my delicious meal of ribs as I should have, but the red wine was tasty. Liev was nodding off by the time we strolled back to our room. He conked out immediately while mom and I giggled and packed away leftover dinner.
Agreeing that an early bedtime was best, we crawled into our respective beds at a reasonable 8:30. A half an hour later, we discovered that dance studio directly across from us had rehearsals. They practiced a jazzy West Side Story musical that made the windows vibrate. With the lights out, we watched the Sharks and Jets fight it out. Mom commented that at last, it felt like an east coast city. I fell asleep marveling, amazed to be in Boston, and excited about our upcoming trip to the aquarium tomorrow.