Showering with R2-D2

toilet2My eyes opened half way.  A sliver of dull light peeked at me between heavy velvet curtains. My head shifted. Where was my pepper tree silhouetted against the dawn sky? What happened to my window?

Where am I?

Donna was already awake and looking at guide books.

“We’ve got big day ahead.” She said. ‘I’m going to wake the kids.”

“I need a quick shower first.”  I threw off my pastel pink blanket and my bare feet flattened on the thin carpet. I heard Jill sleepy voice: “I’m hungry”

“Meet us in the dining room when you’re done.”  Donna instructed.

I grabbed some clothes and a towel then poked my head into the hall. When the coast was clear, I moved my half naked body toward the stairs. The warm air offset the cold tiles beneath my bare feet. In that fleeting moment, I smelled something marvelously salty and fatty cooking. I heard dishes clinging and faint conversation. I tapped on the door of the shower room. Bingo – all mine. Inside I saw a real contrast from the historic look of the rest of the building – the shower was a high tech chamber reminiscent of Star Wars, like where an Imperial Storm Trooper might freshen up. The hard plastic valve looked confusing. I studied its sliding gizmos and gages for several minutes before giving in and punching buttons. Semi-warm water eventually flowed out and I stepped into the chamber. My sense of accomplishment was short lived as I realized I’d forgotten soap. My damp eyes spotted a tiny, near-worn bar. I had two choices – use it, or run back upstairs.

I lathered up.

With my damp towel draped across my bare shoulders, I poked my head back out into the hallway. All was clear so I bee-lined for the staircase and scurried up to our room. When I got there the door knob wouldn’t budge. Damn! I banged again, but got no answer. They’d gone to breakfast and locked the door. My only option was to run back down to the dining room and get the key from Donna. There was more scampering. At the door I stood there for a moment to catch my breath. I ran my fingers through my tangled damp hair and re-adjusted my towel. As I opened the door it creaked loudly. I glimpsed linen covered tables, flowers, and neatly dressed people – all looking my way. Donna’s eyes widened as they met mine. Jill’s cup was halfway to her mouth when she froze and just stared at me.  I made a gesture of turning a key. Donna got up and walked quickly toward me.

She spoke quietly, without moving her lips much, like a ventriloquist –playing to a room of terrified children. “What are you doing Jeffery?”

“You guys locked me out of the room.”

She sighed. “Here’s the key. The boys are still asleep in there by the way.”

I didn’t rush things too much – wanting to allow time for the dining room to clear before rearing my head in there again.

Donna was sipping coffee and chatting with a woman sitting at the table next to her. The boys and I sat down. I grabbed a piece of toast from a slotted metal holder. Alex and Chris poured milk from a frosty metal pitcher over their corn flakes. The woman introduced herself as Jan. She was very nice and fascinated with our trip. Donna was in the middle of answering the usual questions, like how the kids got out of school and how I got out of work. Jan told us she was so jealous because she had only three weeks. I found myself jealous of her because she’d be enjoying a normal vacation. As she and Donna discussed museums and cathedrals, I spread marmalade on my toast and wondered if I’d finally done it – evolved into a full blown malcontent. Was I that far off base resisting this five month journey? Everybody and I mean everybody seemed blown away by this “opportunity.” As if I’d gotten a scholarship to Harvard, signed a record deal, and found life on Mars.

Alex broke my thoughts. “Dad, is this Boston?” He took a sip of his hot chocolate and I tilted my ear toward the speaker hanging in the corner.

“Yes. More than a Feeling. First album.” It was nice to hear – a bit out of place, but nice to hear.

He nodded his head toward Jan then whispered. “She’s lucky.”

NEXT: Saved by the Tower and Chestnuts Roasting  

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