Left the San Jon Motel minutes ago. Stopped at a traveler’s rest stop by the interstate for a coffee because I didn’t feel like going through the hassle, however slight, of making a cup in my room. Managed to spill it all over the counter. Cleaned the mess up with a nearby rag, but the whole incident is symbolic of my mental state.
That damnable, oppressive sky…
I’m obviously not as strong as I thought I was, or rather, I never gave it much thought. The point of the trip isn’t to prove—to who?, or myself—how strong I am mentally, emotionally, whatever. However, if trips such as this test one’s boundaries, well, consider mine tested. I’m ready to be home (but where exactly is that?). Or to make a home somewhere, at least for a little while, until I’m ready to test boundaries again.
The motel was decent enough. Clean, at least. And economical. No wi-fi, but that’s not a bad thing, and is more than likely a good thing. Small, white(ish), square room, barely large enough to squeeze the cheap furniture into and still leave room to walk around it all. Firm, queen-size bed, and an orange, tan, and brown shag carpet (the peak of luxury). A CRT television on a stand against the wall opposite the bed. Up and to the right of that, and hanging from a shelf of metal tubes, plastic coat hangers in the colors of America!. The shower mostly dribbled out water, like an infirm, elderly man in hospice drooling from the mouth, but at least it was hot.
The proprietor was a pleasant enough old man—originally from England, has been living in the States, California specifically, since 1978, but moved to San Jon, God only knows why, in 2008. He’s been running the motel since, alone but for his mouthy chihuahua. Maybe his wife, if he had one, died, and he felt like he could no longer stay there? Or it just became too expensive? Or both? Anyway, the lobby, if one should call it that, with its dirty, white walls and worn carpet, frayed along the edges, smelled of sour tuna fish. In the back room, which is hidden only slightly by a length of curtain, and from where the man materialized when I rang, a television is perpetually on. He lives, not a spartan existence, but a simple, spare, messy existence. A seemingly lonely, despondent existence. He is wallowing in a pig sty back there, and I’m left wondering how reflective that is of his state of mind. The motel clearly gets little business; another fifteen or twenty minutes west (by car) is Tucumcari, a town with a greater wealth of more up-to-date places to stay. Much easier to continue driving, unless of course you’re heading east, and maybe that’s how he gets all his customers (though, in that case, why not stop twenty minutes sooner?). Too, he most certainly gets only the most budget-conscious types passing through who are happy to get by for a night with very little. It is peculiar.
San Jon itself appears to have nothing to offer to anyone aside from this rest stop, an Indian restaurant, and the motel. One has to live and work here to get anything of significance or value from the town, and even that I question. But there is no denying the landscape is surely magnificent, or would be on a less dreary day. I’m not getting the best of New Mexico right now, and that’s reflected in how I feel.