The old hotel by the ocean is being gutted, its walls torn off like wings from an insect, the skeleton left open to wind and roosting birds. The concrete-and-rebar spine has been left to support whatever expensive, reimagined new condos will be bolted on. Soon the vintage holiday rooms(more) will feature floor-to-ceiling glass walls, quarrystone countertops, the inevitable Subzero fridge, dully gleaming and as roomy as a morgue drawer.
The view of the sea was wasted on a hotel where the rooms were too small and ill-fitted to ever command the sort of prices commensurate with a view of the sea that leaves your heart feeling both crowded and lost at the same time. And meanwhile on the street below the falafel places are folding up. The barbers are being evicted, as are the stores selling cigarettes, cat food, and oranges. The neighborhood is transitioning to wealth: pricey coffee to linger over, small and costly lunches, cheaply-made summerwear at stiff prices.
That hotel is where I had my first anniversary. The room was white and tan and when you were inside it you were conscious of the thickness of years and visitors and secrets. The bourbon in the bottle on the table matched the carpeting and the sea surged 17 stories below, silent behind windows that didn't open. This was our city but we didn't belong here; our own basement apartment was across town. This was a "staycation." The building seemed to sway in the wind and rain sheeted down outside. It felt like an eagle's perch, precarious. the bed seemed damp and grainy, as with blown beach sand.
Years later when I observed the renovations, the husk seemed appropriate to my memory. The weather could blow in. There had never been safety, and I'd known it on that holiday.(less)