Notes From a Day Hotel in Zurich

I close the curtains and the planes outside my window disappear. I fall into a restless sleep on the hard twin bed and dream of regression.

Suddenly, I am back in an old life trying to manage a classroom from the road. In the dream, I am emailing a follow up to someone I was once friends with who does not respond, and use an invitation to my class as a veiled excuse to tempt them to communicate with me.

In the dream I hesitate. I know my true motivations will leak through. Should I send it?

I wake up thrilled to be propelling myself through timelines into my actual future. What a relief.

One note in the dream, floating somewhere in that surreal narrative, stayed with me: a close friend I had a falling out with in real life was on the other end of the phone. In the dream we reconnected, we laughed.

I miss you, I said.

This is the only way we can be friends without it hurting, she said, in so many words.

And I knew she was right.

Awake, I listen to my Spotify “Weekly Discovery” playlist — praise this one singular manifestation of the algorithm — which has gotten so good it is a gift to unwrap each week for my ears, and carries a sense of home with me. Just a little music can transform a space.

This week: Jaco Pastorius, Mulatu Astatke, Sault, Amy Winehouse, Alice Coltrane, Oscar Jerome, Ahmad Jamal, Wayne Shorter, and some names new to me: Romare, The Midnight Hour, Mucky, HNNY.

I remember an old friend mentioning his wife buying flowers for any hotel room she was staying in. I’ve always loved that tidbit. If I could here, I would. Really. I would have spent the money on flowers for the ten hours this room is mine, but… it’s an airport, you know.

Compared to what I’m used to in my hometown of international connections, this airport is creepily quiet. For long, long stretches I am completely alone with my luggage.

This allows me to watch myself like film scenes: a singular woman with a matching floral sweatsuit rides alone in the train car. “Heidi” welcomes her over the loudspeaker to Zurich, as she zooms through the tunnel backwards, surrounded by the digital screens with images of mountains and the famous lake. The solo woman with her two carryon bags can see into the next car where multiple passengers await their stop. One looks like a bit like her dead mom, from afar.

Then: going through security I couldn’t find which pocket I put my phone in, and because I was the only one there, six people helped me find it by putting my bags back through the X-ray. Six of them were huddled around trying to locate it! Of course it was a very simple task, just there in the underused side pocket.

At the gate passing time, in the giant windows, everything appears doubled. I see two little girls running back and forth — made four by the reflection — ghost twins.

An airplane awaiting departure reminds me of a whale, especially through the blue tint of the window. Everything that exists mimics nature, I think again. Pistil and stamen. The key in its lock.

Just another, oh, two flights and I land in the land of sun.




Caits writes here about mining for daily wonder, the lessons of grief, and building (which is simply embracing what is) an expansively creative life.

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Caits Meissner

Caits Meissner

Caits writes here about mining for daily wonder, the lessons of grief, and building (which is simply embracing what is) an expansively creative life.

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