It had been the sort of travel day where I didn’t think anything useful happened. We’d left Chicago at dusk, on through Indiana and hugging the dip of Lake Michigan, eventually turning north again. Billboards whiz by at trucker’s height, advertising strip clubs with the promise of private dances and luxury suites, eventually giving way to shorter,more tasteful come-ons for wineries.
Stop for gas: a convenience store that seemed like it had been frequently robbed. There were more than the standard number of signs explaining that the staff had no access to the safe, there was never much cash in the drawer, police take notice, etc. The young woman clerk with darting eyes, her blue and green quilted purse hanging on a knob, on the door that led to the back room, a door that looked like it could withstand a nuclear blast. She was in a glass cube.
While I waited to buy some water, I watched each solitary man that walked in — they were all men traveling alone that entered — and I imagined how each might look brandishing a gun.
Back in the car, 140 miles later, arrive in Douglas, Michigan, a beach community in the first quiet grip of winter. Checked into The Pines, which was once your standard 1950s motel and now has been transformed, plank-by-plank, by its new owners. There were many planks: pine walls, whitewashed knotty pine ceiling, a pine bed frame. Behind me, over the bed, hung a print of Waikiki Beach.
I found the thermostat, cranked up the heat, hauled my bag up onto the luggage stand, and started to get ready for dinner.
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Alison J. Stein
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