I was watching a documentary that may have been about a contest to win a stay at an “exotic Reno resort.” The program focused on a couple who seemed to be the bane of the staff’s working lives. They had four rules of behavior, and the husband publicly accused the wife of breaking one. “What do you mean, I’m not friendly?” she screeched at him in the lobby. I thought, “What an odd rule #4!”
The desk clerk was shown tacking their messages, called “graffiti,” to a bulletin board and complaining that, while they had accumulated many, they never collected them. The viewer was supposed to be upset by the futility of trying to deal with such an unreasonable couple. I thought, “If the staff feels that way, they should just hand their ‘graffiti’ to them.” I didn’t understand the issue.
At the back of my mind, the beaches and palm trees, combined with “exotic Reno resort,” puzzled me.
In my mind, I treated his actions as though they were fresh and an affront to my mother’s recent memory, but as I was about to say, “She’s been gone only _____,” it hit me hard that she had been gone more than 25 years. I couldn’t believe it. I felt as though I had just seen her.
As I woke up, I understood that the children, both under 10, were normal, and I’d felt alienated and violated. I went out and looked up into the half-lit apocalyptic sky.