Hotel beds offer sanctuary from our uniform concerns in a quiet and multi-layered manner. We turn to it usually exhausted from our first day off in three years. This day should be refreshing, but it is mired in exhaustion.

 Exhaustion from hundreds of days of interrupted sleep, a long drive drawn down by an hour wait at the border. An hour of being surrounded by hundreds of idling vehicles only to be let in by the border guard who took one look at me and my vehicle, which screams, “I am way too privileged to risk any of this by doing something stupid in your country” and let me through with a warm smile. Exhaustion from killing time while on foot, exploring the small resort town while the early check-in time at the hotel slowly creeps towards me. But after the day has come to a close, the comfort of the hotel bed starts to draw me in.

It is not until the following morning that the gravity of such a bed finally sinks in. Not only is an unfamiliar bed that does not have the usual complications of another’s head being rested beside yours comforting, but freeing. There are no strings attached here. The option of not making the bed after you get up and not having the burden placed on anyone else by setting the “do not disturb” sign on the door is refreshing. 

The world’s gravity brings down feeling refreshed as it extends towards this bed. This is not in a negative manner, however. Upon setting up my little fortress of solitude on the bed and my endless supply of canned cold brew coffee, the newspaper gently reminds me of the happenings beyond these walls. While basking in comfort, the words from Ukrainian wedding photographer Viktoria Vesylieva fill me not with guilt but with gratitude and a sense of returned duty once I leave this room. “There is nothing worse than being a refugee,” she says when asked why she returned to Kyiv with her daughter even as the missile strikes had resumed.*

So, onward towards meeting dear friends and celebrating the marriage of quite possibly the two best people our species has on offer. 

The lesson that this bed has offered today is priceless. This lesson is to make the extra effort to take in every detail while here.

*Quote from: “Missile strikes rekindle fear for Kyiv residents” by Derek Brower, The Financial Times, 07/02/2022