Just tuning in? Catch up on my World Fantasy Convention saga with Part One (Scott Lynch! Elizabeth Bear! Trains! Twitter!), Part Two (S.M. Stirling! Missed connections! Anxiety! Rain!), and Part Three (Patrick Rothfuss! Feminism in Fantasy writing! Hope!).
The way I saw it, I had several options: staying up all night drinking at the bar (after which I would feel like total shit and probably fall asleep during the panel discussions I had been looking forward to), getting back into my couchsurfing non-host’s apartment building and setting up camp in her foyer (but where would I go to pee? and what if she never actually came back?), finding someone willing to let me sleep on the floor of their hotel room after hearing my sad sad story of strife and abandonment (it’s happened before, but there is a lot of luck involved), or just curling up under all my clothes on top of my suitcase under the pier (and get my books wet?! fuuuck). Or I could just get a hotel room. Cod damn it. I am getting too old for this shit.
At the end of the Patrick Rothfuss reading at Waterstones, I had returned to the convention hotel. My phone’s battery was almost dead—because not being able to get in touch with your host in a strange city isn’t traumatic enough without the constant threat of having your communication device crap out completely—and I knew there were both plugs and free wifi in the hotel lobby. People in dresses and suits were mingling, drinks in hand, as I set up camp on the floor next to a free plug, hair wet from the rain, resolve stiffening into a wild joy at the thought that I would not be fucked, not as long as I had electricity, a convention badge, and a credit card. A woman playing a game on a tablet helped me get onto the wifi, and I started to look for accommodations. I really would have appreciated a minority report on that couchsurfing host. There had been so many lovely Airbnb options that I had almost booked. Instead I opted to save money and ended up spending even more of it booking a room at the last of the last minutes.
The internet, the telephone, and the credit card made it possible. I don’t hold much by credit cards in general, but my mom has always encouraged me to have them around. For emergencies. Well, mom, right again. Good thing I grew up in America at a time when credit card companies were throwing themselves at anyone and everyone. I found a room online and booked over the phone. Twenty minutes later I was walking toward the Royal Albion Hotel. The walk took under ten minutes, a straight shot beside the pebble beach and just past the Brighton Pier.
The price was more than I had wanted to spend, but it was a room, a room in a city I had been certain had been completely booked out by the convention and the Halloween party-seekers whose wobbling, scantily clad bodies lined the sidewalk beside the water that connected the Royal Albion and the convention hotel. I had considered and discarded the idea of booking just one night, of booking something more affordable or finding my gods damned couchsurfing host on the morrow. But then I would have had to drag around my luggage. But then I would have missed panels getting the details straight. Fuck that. I did not come to this convention to miss half of it chasing hotel rooms and irresponsible hosts, I told myself. No I did not.
There is something about having a hotel room all to myself that makes me feel like an adult. More so than almost anything else I’ve ever done, including having a child. What a strange phenomenon.
The manager upgraded me to a double room, and even so it was a small white cave, the usual bed-television-closet-desk-weird-art combo of high mid-class hotels everywhere. It was also in the basement. The Land of Eternal Darkness: A good place to sleep in, a good place to lose track of time, place, and weather. I lined my books up on the desk—they already numbered in the double digits—and poured through my program at the events of the next day. The bed was incredible—warm arms, security, the womb of “I am not going to be sleeping outside tonight”-ness. It enveloped me, and carried me through dawn into morning.
Note: The first and last photos on this post are from one of the exhibiting artists at the convention. Her work—the tinest of sculptures featuring bug corpses and minute skeleti fairies—blew my mind. Her name is Tessa Farmer. Yes, I am aware that skeleti is not the plural of skeleton. Sue me; I like the way it sounds.