Come into my parlour

I like to stay in B&Bs when I travel; more specifically, B&Bs of the historic kind, where you leave the current world behind and you sleep inside walls that could tell a story.
Walls that have seen lives come and go and stand firm against change.
Some communities are rich with B&Bs and others not so much. I’m not sure where Fort Frances falls in on the supply of B&Bs.
I’ve stayed in B&Bs that are modern, contemporary spaces—an exotic oasis from the chaos. But the ones that call to me are the historic gems.
Just walking through the entrance to these majestic wonders makes me want to sharpen my pencil, grab my notebook, and find a quiet corner where I possibly could pen some of the greatest fiction imaginable (or so my imagination tells me).
The history of these places is just that inspiring; a muse in the very design of the building.
If I was rich, I would check into such a B&B and I wouldn’t leave until my novel was finished. And in the acknowledgement, I would effusively thank said B&B for the adventure to the past, for the escape from the mundane and ordinary, because this is precisely what B&Bs do for me.
There is, however, a downside to this historical respite; a downside to the historical charm. I am changed in how I view the ordinary hotel. A hotel is a faceless concoction of mortar and brick, having no personality with its corporate nature.
When I check into a hotel, I don’t feel the urge to jump on the beds or peel at the wallpaper. But I still, however, feel a disconnect and I invest little of myself into the space.
I am not tempted to take note of the colour palette on the walls and I don’t drool over the artwork that is bolted to the wall. I don’t feel a sense of home.
It is a much different experience staying at a B&B; it is of a highly-personal nature, as if the home belonged to a family member.
The B&B owner makes our breakfast, pours the coffee, makes small talk. I feel compelled to vacuum before I leave, strip the beds, polish the bathroom mirror. The linens are often so divine, I struggle to pull back the covers and often feel I should curl up in a chair for the night instead.
I feel slightly foolish locking the door, as if I am shouting out my distrust for my hosts. I can’t leave a glob of toothpaste in the sink or forget a pair of dirty socks under the bed. That would be rude.
And what if they don’t invite me back?
Sometimes I worry when I stay at a B&B that I might be thought of as the cousin who has come again without an invitation; has shown up at the door with my suitcase and the family gives each other a knowing look and just barely stifles a groan.
Undoubtedly, there are guests that have worn thin the hand of welcome. I am fairly certain that seasoned B&B owners have seen and heard it all.
I couldn’t be a B&B owner. I am not friendly enough and certainly don’t have the small talk gene. Once I had exhausted the discussion about the weather, where would I go from there?
I’d have to write notes and refer to them; maybe scribble a few things on the inside of my wrist. Sports. Stay away from religion. Politics can be dicey. I could share a recipe or a title of a good book, I suppose.
There might just be an awkward silence and some staring at shoes, and who wants to stay somewhere like that, where the host has nothing interesting to say.
I know what you are thinking—that I’ve lived a very small life. That could be true in comparison to the many world travellers I have met.
But still, it’s good to know I shouldn’t pursue a career path in B&B proprietorship and I’m glad I know how lovely the experience can be.
It’s been a win-win situation.
wendistewart@live.ca

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