There are so many things to feel sad about in life. I have noticed that I often enjoy fixating on the smallest of them. This ski lodge in New Hampshire where we are staying is one. It’s not a sad place, necessarily. It was built with an alpine theme in the 1930’s by an Austrian baron who was looking to avoid the war. In the lobby there are photographs of the lodge from that era: quartets of straight couples lean over their drinks and smile; children ski through the legs of large plywood cut-out animals; Lucille Ball stands outside in leggings and a mid-length fur coat. It looks like it was exceptionally cozy here back then. After the war was over the baron went back to Austria, and at some point the hotel rooms were converted into condo units and the lodge was turned into a time share. Somewhere in the period between then and now most of the coziness was drained out of this place. What used to be the restaurant and lounge can now be found by following signs for “the wifi room.” All the furniture and the decor in the wifi room remain unchanged from when it was a bustling social hub. The lights in the room tend to be off, and there is a teenager wearing headphones, with a glowing bluish face, talking in a very loud voice to someone who isn’t there. “Pick up the lantern, Jeremy, it’s going to give you extra force. Okay, I’ll get it for you. Here comes a creeper!!” There is the distinct feeling of something having been alive here and that it isn’t alive anymore.
I have learned over time that the past wasn’t any better than the present. I can pine away wishing that I was around in New York in the 70’s, living in a cheap dirty loft and dancing in a nightclub with Liza Minelli, and every time do that I should also imagine chasing a rat from my kitchen, having pneumonia from lack of heat and walking around the city afraid of being assaulted. If this alpine lodge were today as it was back in the baron’s day, my girlfriend and I would of course not be here recording an album in our condo unit. We might have been here as guests, down in the lounge, drinking cocktails and chatting up the other guests, but it would be my hand brushing her thigh under the table and everyone assuming that she and I were looking for husbands. Sometimes when I have been working for hours up in our living room and I need a break I will go down to the wifi room and spend a quarter hour imagining my life as the owner and redecorator of this place. I sit in the dark and visualize how it would look if I took all of my powers to make something come alive and aimed them into the container of this space. And then I open up my laptop get on the internet and post this writing on my website.