A Very Unparked Domain
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Nostalgic in Nashua

I have spent the week sitting in a hotel room, watching TNT, and feeling absolutely nostalgic.

I’ve had a rough week in Nashua battling the elements, and losing. That means I’ve been too tired to write and too tired to read. I have actually been reduced to watching television.

The challenge is to find something to watch on TV that doesn’t make me feel worse!

I grew up in a TV family: my father was in sales and later management at a TV station in Western Canada. We actively discussed and dissected and deconstructed television advertisements and programs; I was explicitly raised to talk back to the television.

Finding something I can watch on TV is like trying to eat out in chain restaurants when you were raised by a chef.

It’s not about “good vs bad” TV: I have an extremely high cheese tolerance. (Keep reading!) It’s about finding TV that isn’t so violent, racist, sexist or all-around demeaning that I can bear to watch.

And that brings us to TNT the innocuous cheese network.

I can rely without hesitation on the TNT afternoon lineup of reruns of Law and Order, Charmed, and more Law and Order, to while away my most non-functional days.

The plots are engaging but not gut-wrenching; lose ends are wrapped up in a tidy package by the end of the episode; and I care just enough to follow the story without actually feeling emotionally invested in the fates of the imaginary people parading before me.

The nostalgia part comes in because this is not the first time I’ve sat in a hotel room, sick, watching TNT.

I have a literal sensation of déjà vu.

Back in 2003, Neil and I were living in Dallas, Texas, finishing up his programming contract, and gearing up for a move to Northern Virginia.

Only Neil’s contract was extended for a week: a week longer than our apartment lease.

No problem! We put our stuff in storage, and moved into an extended stay motel.

Neil’s work contract kept getting extended. A week here, a week there. For a grand total of over three months.

(We kept reprising our going away party, too, which turned into a three-month-running weekly dinner and salon at Addison’s wonderful Dream Cafe, with our brilliant political and programming friends whom I’m pleased to report all played together nicely.)

The hotel we stayed in was a Motel 6. Below a set of clog-dancing floozies. Behind the biggest strip club in Dallas.

(Neil liked to point out we could have folded dollar bills into airplanes and flown them over the wall.)

When the maids showed up to kick me out every day, I’d walk down the road to the only clothing-mandatory establishment in the vicinity: the IHOP.

Nice neighbourhood.

I’d nurse a cup of IHOP tea until it was safe to go back to the room. And then, to while I away my convalescence-impaired, low-brain function hours, I’d watch Law and Order and Charmed on TNT until Neil came home for dinner.

When we moved from Northern Virginia to Richmond in the spring of 2004, we stayed in an extended-stay hotel again for a month while we looked for a place to live. (This time we upgraded to a Candlewood Suites. They provide GREAT value for the money, and if you can afford them, I can’t recommend them enough.) I was sick, as usual, and TNT was my afternoon companion.

In the summer of 2007, we were set to move into a newly-renovated apartment as the very first tenants, only there’s a price to pay for being pioneers: the building inspector’s certificate of occupancy didn’t come through as anticipated and the apartment wasn’t ready for a month. The problem was that we had to move out of our old address anyway. So back we went to the same Candlewood Suites, and as I was still sick, the casts of Charmed and Law and Order kept me company through the day.

When you compare the cost of an apartment plus utilities with the extended-stay rates, and then throw in full cable and maid service, hotel living doesn’t come out to be all that expensive. Even before this trip, hotels have done very well by us as stop-gap accommodations.

So here I sit in Nashua, in a hotel, a bit too overtired to think straight, whiling away the afternoons with my pals the crime-fighting police and district attorneys of New York, and the demon-fighting witches of San Francisco.

And it feels like old home week.

Comfort and familiarity can come from the strangest of circumstances.

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