My original plan was to check in at the hotel and then go eat supper at Popeye's. I realized, however, that it would be much more convenient to just go eat and then head to the hotel where I would be staying for the remainder of the night. I looked forward to watching some of the NBA Finals on TV if not in my room, then at the bar downstairs.
As I drew closer to Lombard, the city where the conference was taking place, I started coughing every now and then. Dori had noticed this a bit earlier and hoped I wasn't coming down with anything. I said, "Not a chance" and continued to drive merrily along. Now that it was becoming more acute, the thought entered my mind that I might not be at full speed for the weekend. Something similar happened last year on the drive down; my neck was so achy that I had to put a pillow behind my head.
In some ways, I was looking forward to Popeye's almost as much as the conference. I'd first tried it the summer before and went there twice in four days. Going back for more was an absolute necessity as there are no locations within 100 miles of where we live. I walked in and ordered a 2-piece with a corn of cob. I went to the fountain and got Hawaiian Punch for a drink, but it was totally bland. Not wanting to mess with caffeine or carbonation, I put the Crystal Light I'd brought along into the Popeye's cup and went from there.
The food was as delicious as 12 months before, but I noticed I wasn't eating as mindully, as slowly as I had the last time I was there. It may have been anxiety at getting checked in at the hotel. You see, I had a bit of a concern that since my name wasn't on the credit card that was used to bill the hotel, I might have problems when I got there. Dori was supposed to have accompanied me there, but her sister was feeling ill and requested that I drop her off first. I took things a bit more easy as I had my last few bites.
Next, it was off to the hotel where wonder of wonders, the check-in clerk, the one who had so sincerely said "Welcome" a minute before, said that they usually don't let people check in who aren't listed on the reservation, but since I had copies of the confirmation and there was a Mr. listed in there somewhere, she would "let it slide". Here's a pic of the check-in area:
Happy that I had a place to sleep, I parked the car in the ramp and brought my luggage inside. This included my two favorite pillows and a small fan. From the 7th floor, I had a great view of Target. I was feeling great at this point, though the cough was still a bit of a concern.
After spending so much time on the road, I felt now was a great time to take a hot bath and just relax. This is what the bathroom looks like:
In some ways, the trip had come up a bit too fast. I was secretly hoping that it would still be a few weeks away. Staying in a hotel by myself and being away from our home and pets isn't something I'm a big fan of. Plus, I wondered if I'd really even get anything out of this year's workshops. But I was here now and like it or not, magic time was approaching.
It was about 7pm as I put my robe on and just then, a wave of exhaustion overcame me. All thoughts of going downstairs to watch the game passed as I realized that it would be best to just get plenty of sleep that night and be as fresh as possible for the next morning.
I headed to the bathroom where I sat on the floor and had some snacks before turning in: a package of Oreo Cakesters, a small bag of Cheetos, and a Cherry Nutri-Grain bar. I read a 5-year old Entertainment Weekly magazine while doing so. One great thing about hotels is that you can really make the room dark. It's well known that having sex in a hotel is so exhilarating in large part because the male loves having sex in different places. I pulled down the shade and shut the curtains.
My mind raced as I tried to sleep. Hoping I wasn't coming down with anything, I knew I'd have to head to the hotel gift shop the next morning and get plenty of cough drops so that I wouldn't be a nuisance to others when a cough came on. I was able to finally get to sleep an hour later, but woke up what felt like 15 minutes after. In fact, I woke up at least five times that night. Not being roused by the cough, I had no explanation for why this was happening: Being in a different bed? Spending a lot of money on an experience that might not pay off? Worried that I'd be well under 100% through it all?
It wasn't looking good at this point, but damn if I wasn't going to give it my best shot when it came time to rise for the day.