This might be a new series. Because sometimes I look at so many pretty pictures of happy couples doing happy things that I get confused about how to actually be part of a happy couple. Happy is not always pretty. Sometimes it’s gritty. Sometimes it’s boring. In the case of this post, happiness is compromise and questionable sheets.
Husband and I went to Houston to see family, but we stayed at a La Quinta Inn. La Keen-tah. This irked me mildly. Because he is the youngest in his family and we dated for a million years after his siblings were all married, I’ve always felt like our relationship is just a little less legitimate. [Oh the plight of the long-term girlfriend, always stepping aside during family photos, or worse, being asked to take them.] We’re married now, but we don’t have kids, so when concessions have to be made, we’re the ones who make them. In this case, all the siblings and grandchildren filled up the spare rooms and couches and floor space in his parents’ lovely Houston home, leaving us to spend our nights at the La Quinta Inn just down the road. We volunteered. But still.
The La Quinta Inn had no hallways and doors on the outside of the buildings. Husband sanitized the remote control when we got inside so we could mock watch Nancy Grace. We pushed the bedspread onto the floor the way we do even when our room cost more than $69 a night and slid into the white sheets. Which were actually fine. In the morning we woke up at 6:00 and stumbled into the lobby for our Texas-shaped waffles and a few minutes later we stumbled to the car and I fished around my purse for our coupon for half off a dozen donuts from Shipley’s while Husband grabbed a few things from the room and suddenly I felt very lucky to be spending my nights and early mornings with Husband in this cheap motel.
You see, there’s a narrative in my family about love and travel and it goes something like this: There’s nothing more important than family, and it makes no sense to travel when you’ve got love all around you. Europe’s got nothing on SuburbanTown, Arizona, which, after all, has grandbabies. However, if even one member of the family finds themselves somewhere else, well then you travel. You travel all together, as a family, and you travel in the car, with candy and coolers and roadgames. And you drive for more days than you’ll get to see the missing family member, staying at Cheap Motels the whole way.
My parents tell this story, about traveling, somewhere, with me when I was a baby. The story goes that they pulled into a motel and checked in and opened the door (outside, no hallways), flipped on the light, and saw the roaches scatter. They laugh about because they were in love.
My siblings and I tell this story, about traveling, somewhere, when we were kids. The story goes that we stayed at a Motel 6 and looked through our second story window all night at the man who sat in the bed of his truck just below us, sharpening a knife. We laugh about it, because there’s not a one of us that wouldn’t do just about anything for a good story.
Husband and I tell this story, about traveling, to the midwest, before we were engaged. The story goes that we tried to book rooms at the Super 8 the entire way, but they were all full, so we had to stay at an Executive Inn (not for executives), and it was the best trip of our lives.
Cheap motels are part of a grand adventure, of young love, and adventure, and a little family moving through the world. Plus, the nice digs where my employer puts me up when I travel for work never have Texas-shaped waffles.