Walking South Flower Street.

I’m riding up the elevator. There are four others in this box, and I’m pressed against the back. The three outer walls are glass, floor to ceiling. My chest tightens. I have a need, I mean a real need to shift closer to the center but there’s no room to move. I squeeze the handle on my roller board, averting my eyes from the concrete floor 29 floors below me. Get me out of here.

It is a Westin. Fond memories of Los Angeles are anchored here. An infinity roof top pool. Chill music. Aquamarine mood lighting. Warm evening air. You were younger then. Work travel was a benefit. Dining out on the corporate card within your daily allowance. Lingering at the hotel bar for a nightcap. Watching the Lakers on the overhead T.V.

The elevator door opens. How many times in your life have you been in this exact spot, dragging your luggage (and your a**) out of an elevator, late evening or night, eyes desperately scanning for the room number on the wall, body craving sleep, body yearning for your own bed, your own pillows, your own comforter…Home.

There’s a large stain on the carpet. And then another. And another. I reach for my key. I step in. There’s a faint smell of tobacco. And then industrial disinfectant. I set my bags down and step into the bathroom. No separate shower from tub, caulking around the tub has separated. The faucet is dripping, splashing around the drain and a soft brown stain. My hands reach for a towel, the same towel used by hundreds of patrons, I pause, searching for blood stains, discoloration of any type. When I can’t find it, I advance – it’s coarse on my forehead and my cheeks, the industrial washers scrubbing out the remaining useful life. I breathe in the fabric of the towel. Smell? Nothing.

The air conditioner is a dated, large wall unit that’s better suited for a 2-cycle lawn mower engine. It’s emitting non-stop, soul crushing bedlam. Intolerable.

I turn up the thermostat, a kill switch to cut this racket. The thermostat reads 74° F, it shuts down. Silence.

I kick off my shoes, and fall backwards on the bed. I’m staring up at the popcorn ceiling looking for water stains. I can’t make out the program from the TV in the next room, walls are paper thin.

I drift back to earlier in the day. I’m in the boarding area at San Diego International Airport, waiting for my flight to L.A. American Airlines. Boeing aircraft. The intercom crackles and she comes on asking for a moment of silence. Passengers who were milling around, stop, pause, look up from their smartphones, reflect and await further instructions. The sound of bells…bing…bing…bing…bing...pass through the intercom. Haunting.  I’m on American Airlines. And a Boeing aircraft. And on the same September 11th. And en route to Los Angeles. To the same destination to breathe this same warm air, or to sleep in this same tired hotel.

I need to get out. I put on my shoes and rush out. The elevator races down to the ground floor.  I step out of the lobby onto S. Flower Street. I inhale, hold it, exhale and look about.

And then I walk.

The street. The sky. The fading evening light.

And then it drifts from somewhere up the street. A scent, increasingly stronger as I approach. Its footprint a few square feet, yet its impact fills the air for several city blocks. I snap a small stem and inhale. Lavender. Is there anything like the scent of lavender?

The long day’s heaviness lifts every so slightly.

I am.

I still am.

 


Photo of 9/11 Memorial in NYC by Eric Kanigan.

Comments

  1. yes, you are.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What a sweet memorial! I was full of complaints (this a.m.) I was attempting to forgive, and you’ve helped me do it–thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. The scent of lavendar is said to reduce anxiety and emotional stress. A wonderful DK post can do the same. Thanks pal….

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Wonderfully written and moving, David–

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Lavender fixes almost anything that isn’t physically broken. Interesting that you remembered where it was. Were you flying on 9/11/01

    Liked by 2 people

  6. These descriptions make me glad I have a lower-income job with many fewer expectations of me, including endless work travel. I avoid any job that demands a lot of travel. The stress, as you blog it, is quite extreme.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. Let’s just say this post does not give one the urge to find a job requiring lots of travel – which I have been considering. Then again, some love it. I cannot speak as I have no clue. That said, love these posts of yours, as you know and yes. Lavender is a known stress reducer.
    And you are. You most definitely still are.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Yes…. thankfully, as are we.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Stunning juxtaposition of the constraints of time and place between past and present dissolving in the senses.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Something organic was needed to “ground” you in this cement jungle. Thank god for the lavender.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. You always seem to find that little bit of nature amid the chaos Mr K. It’s always there to be found, that I trust, and you remind us all with your great writing. 🌸☀️🌻

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Such an amazing photo, Eric took…

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Photo, Honoring as well…

    Liked by 1 person

  14. “I still am” You humbly, engaged the moment of Honoring Silence…knowing that each Breath is a Gift…Your body exhausted, your mind drifts and yet your compassionate heart feels, for those lost, for those family, friends, co-workers and citizens of the World left to grieve, to greet, to face the uncertainly of another day…lives moves forward, no longer in a holding pattern, Joy Steps In…they remember, you remember, we remember…and we pray for peace…for the fragrance of Love, moves on the breeze, moves across the room, drifts across the water, touching continents where we don’t live, the fragrance settles and changes, mellowing with the season of time, with the compassion of our hearts, praying for peace…while continuing to express Loving Kindness to others…We have to Reach Out to Reach In…Love Conquers All…

    Liked by 2 people

  15. Loved this Dave. Thank you for bringing in the surprising and uplifting lavender. May we all keep coming back to our senses.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. I always had ‚tons‘ of lavender wherever I lived, and even if I had to have them in pots. For my washing I drop 8-12 drops of Lavender essence in the last water and for ‚heavy‘ cases I drop some on the pillow. It‘s an instant soul-lifter… 🙂 These last sentences nearly made me cry with a sense of ‚letting go‘ and ‚getting there‘ (where?!)

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Yes you are. A brilliant writer. Enjoyed this piece with lots of reflection too…back to the time when work travel was a perk.

    Liked by 1 person

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