No Place Like Home

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I’ve lived in Texas for about ten years – first in Austin and then, in and around Houston. And during the decade, I’ve only been to Dallas three times. Texas is a big place, after all, and traveling the distance between cities is daunting, especially considering it can take three hours to just get from one end of Houston to the other.

So, recently, we decided to take a sojourn up to Dallas, which takes around four hours from our house without bad traffic. The scenery is not unlike driving in Michigan on I-75 heading “Up North” – trees, large flat plains of grass, gas stations and chain restaurants along the expressway.

It had been a long week of work and we were a little tired, save our toddler, who began in earnest good spirits and chanted excitedly about our “adventure!” though that would not last beyond the first 30 minutes, when his cheery chant changed to, “Mama, I need to get out! I need to get out the car! I need to go home!” Off to a great start, clearly.

We detoured a bit to meet up with some high school friends, (fellow Michiganders!) and have dinner with their brood in one of the many quaint little towns surrounding Dallas; all antique stores and boutiques, wine bars and biergartens. But we still had more time on the road, so we were forced to pack it in early to make our downtown destination before we all collapsed in exhaustion.

We arrived in Dallas late, it was already dark outside. The high-rise hotel I had booked was suitably posh – there’s cachet somehow to having a key that gives you access to the 49th floor. Gives one a bit of a superior feeling to look down and see a whole metropolitan city beneath you.

But the superiority took a backseat to getting a child ready for bed, unpacking, yawning uncontrollably and the luxury of going to sleep in a bed you don’t have to make in the morning. We settled in, snuggled up and, well, two of us fell soundly asleep. At first, I was awake because I was still wired from the road, strange bed, strange room. But then … then, it happened. The party.

Yes, a party in the room next door. Honest to goodness, high-school-movie-parents-out-of-town-banger kind of party. Singing, loud music, I could see people dancing through the corner of our windows that had a glimpse of their room. So loud you could have almost convinced me the party was in my room instead of theirs. And there was no one to call. The hotel was so posh, it didn’t even have a reception desk. Everything was digital. No one to contact except the police, but that felt extreme. Honestly, two hours into this rager, all of us now awake, it didn’t feel too extreme anymore; but still, I couldn’t believe there wasn’t anything more dire happening in Dallas at 3am that the cops would fall all over themselves for a noise complaint.

So, that’s how we spent the night – lying in bed, guests of a party we weren’t invited to and hadn’t wanted to attend. Fatigue consuming us, frustration thick in the fancy room, wishing, wishing, wishing we’d stayed home.

The next day, we were able to find someone to grumble, grouse and complain to about our tormented night of sleeplessness. In return, we were granted the following night free and refunded the cost of our parking. The free parking, we happily accepted. But another night in that place? No, thank you. We piled back into the car to return home a day early, already booking another vacation – this time, at a resort we could sleep in all day if we wanted to.

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