Even though this weekend writing escape lasted the same amount of time as Madonna Inn and Montreal, it felt so much longer — in the absolute best way. I felt like I squeezed so much eating and sleeping and writing and wandering around into just one weekend.
I feel like each of my writing “retreats” has had a certain theme so far — not intentionally, but just that certain patterns have arisen that I didn’t expect. Madonna Inn was all about embracing the ridiculous — it’s a ridiculous hotel in every possible way, and likewise trying to write a book is a ridiculous thing in almost every possible way.
Montreal was about powering through — 20 hours on a train, and the only time I wasn’t on a train it was -15 degrees outside. No choice but to stay inside, sit there, and write.
Morocco felt like a few different things. Mostly: keeping the faith that things will work out. This started when I booked my hotel — more expensive than the hotels I usually book, but the photos of it absolutely stunned me and I couldn’t stop thinking about once I’d seen it. I even had a dream about it (my dreams have been all over the place lately — I even sort of Inception-ed myself recently, you guys. It was terrifying and Leonardo wasn’t even there).
But after I booked the hotel I got so anxious — was this really worth spending my money on? Was it worth the trip just for a long weekend?
And then on top of that, when I got to the airport in Paris at 6:30am, I almost missed my flight. I was standing in line for security for an hour and a half — things were still insane because it had only been a few days since the Brussels attacks — and I was so furious, wondering why I was putting myself through this stress and expense and using up one of my few and prized vacation days when I wasn’t even sure it would be worth it in the end. And then I got through security and learned that they had delayed all of the flights from Paris to Morocco that morning because so many of us were stuck in that line, so we all were able to make it in the end. It worked out.
And then I got to my hotel, and I saw the lobby. And the receptionist handed me mint tea and set me up with a tour guide for the following day, who ended up being the best tour guide I’ve ever had, and whom I never would have found had it not been for this hotel. It worked out.
And I spent so much of this weekend wandering around the hotel just marveling at everything, at the effort and time put into every single inch — literally every surface was either tiled or carved or painted. Elaborate rugs lay across even more elaborate tile floors. Everything had a scent. None of the fabrics matched each other but they were all bright and beautiful. There were so many little quiet nooks where you could sit and read or in my case, try to write. The rooftop looked out over the medina, the pool was warm and absolutely spotless, there were plants and fountains everywhere.It was literally a paradise. It’s the most stunning and intricate place I’ve ever seen in my life. I’ve started to realize more and more that I really have a thing for hotels, the way they are designed and the type of people who pass through them — and I guess this makes sense. My home surroundings have always had a profound effect on my mood and optimism, so it makes sense that my temporary traveling homes would have the same effect on me.
I love them so much that a hotel is actually playing a large part in what I’m writing right now. And it’s kind of fun to imagine my own hotel from scratch, what I would do if I were creating one with no limits (which I technically am, because that’s the beauty of fiction).
And so this trip, while more expensive than my usual trips, was worth it for me. It reminded me not to worry about the money if it’s something that I know I can ultimately afford, even if I’ll have to budget a little tighter in other areas for a while. It reminded me not to worry about the stress of a trip if I know it’s a level of stress I can ultimately handle.
And it reminded me to keep the faith in the things I love, which is weird because that’s not something I generally need a reminder for (I’m cynical about many things but weirdly optimistic about my goals for my life). I love hotels, and bigger than that, I love to travel, and bigger than that, I love to write. And these are not the smartest things to love because they are expensive, time-consuming, risky things, but hey — never said I had smart taste.