I’m back in Albany after my two nights on the Bibbulmun. Right now being a curious tourist; one pretending to excellent taste, and also one who seems to think he has much more money to spend than in truth he does. I’m at Liberté, at the London Hotel—a beautiful place that I wish I had the scratch to stay at, but at least I can justify (sort of) paying a visit to its little bar on the ground floor.
I’m sitting at a wee little table by the door, sipping a White Negroni, and trying to photograph the bartender surreptitiously as she shakes and pours cocktails while the battery in my camera dies. Tonight is Blues and Booze Tuesday. For some reason I was thinking live music, but I’m perfectly happy with recordings. I have an excellent drink and that accursed hiking pack is no longer on my back. I’m only here because of the fabulous couple I met the first two days at the hostel. One of them recommended it to me, and it sounded like the sort of place that would be right up my alley.
It’s old and time-worn, with a sort of faded, washed out quality to it, like a forgotten polaroid found at the bottom of a desk drawer that you one day decided to rummage through.
And it’s a bit of an anachronism.
The chairs glow in some places with the sheen of their original polish, but in others are dull and lusterless. There are cool posters pasted up all over the walls, kept company by a handful of mirrors and various other knick-knacks, antiques, and framed photographs old and new. The flat-screen tv is well out of place though, and the wall mounted air conditioner is too modern in appearance. A part of the ceiling has fallen away revealing the wooden planks which the plaster would have been applied to, but those are painted over white to match the ceiling rather than being patched.
A chandelier is suspended above the small bar in the center of the room where the drinks are poured and around which all of this revolves—all of us satellites, our eyes and ears trained on the goings on right behind that bar, right beneath that chandelier which, casting its not-so-bright sphere of light, illuminates the treasures for which we came; but the posters, and the knick-knacks, and the antiques, and the pictures old and new are watching too, like all the framed portraits of past Hogwarts’ head masters in Dumbledore’s office—until we finish our drinks, and maybe our food, pay our tabs, and trickle out the door slowly, unlike space debris flung off the orbit of a rotating star, and maybe, once we all go our separate ways, some of us wander along the streetlighted streets thinking to ourselves how beautiful this world is, and in particular this one little space on the planet where Albany is located, and how wonderful it is that that old hotel still stands there, and the bar inside of it.