Hotel Notepad Series: Shade
I’m a writer, poet and documenter by trade. When I was on tour in San Francisco in early 2019, I decided to sink into those natural inclinations for “Amber” and write some poetic, moody prose about my experience.
Consider it a day-in-the-life perspective, but the day is definitely rainy.
These were originally told in tweets and as an Instagram story, so it’s meant to be a multimedia experience (there is ambient video and more photos in those parts). The best place to witness it for the inclusion of visuals is on my Instagram Stories (saved at the top of my profile page). I hope you enjoy.
Before he arrives, you look for the drawstring for the heavy curtains. There is none; this hotel demands the quotidian.
Finally, you find a button: it says “Shade.” You press it; darkness descends, forced sunset of this chosen life.
Maybe you are God. You giggle.
You are not God. You are a human living in a bizarre era of redundant technology, and your shades will not re-open.
You call the desk: “Hello, my Shade button isn’t working.”
“Maybe you shouldn’t be a whore.”
He does not say this. But perhaps today sunlight is meant for others.
A Shade Operator is sent to assess your situation. He surveys the tealights placed everywhere. You are really into self-care.
He finds the problem: You must first turn Shade functionality on, then press the Open button. Silly girl.
Sunlight saunters in, laying off your candles.
Your new client does not smile. For two hours. You are sure he hates you, so you decide to enjoy yourself.
You moan, scream, tell stories: all for you. He is quiet. You are grateful he can’t review you.
At the end, he asks to see you again. Tomorrow. Sex work is a mystery.
Afterward, you step out into the city to explore. SF: You almost moved here once, until a car accident showed you where you were meant to live instead. You couldn’t move your neck for two weeks, but when you had to focus like that—in only one direction—home became apparent.
As you wander, you recall a lover who lived here. When you crossed intersections, he would grip your neck from the nape and guide you across. You had not experienced this feeling of feral surrender before, and it drained your blood.
He was your first animal. You were not his.
An abridged lovership is always bound to its city. It forms grooves in the concrete.
Tonight you retrace its current, up to the rooftop where he first slid his fingers under your skirt, never breaking your gaze. You cannot stop your mind from dripping toward his memory.
Before bed, you pay for your porn for the first time. You turn the volume down instinctively, then turn it all the way up. Your hand, your fever, your beast. It is enough.
In the morning, you press Shade then Open, like a good girl.
You look out at the other rooms. A Shade closes like a sleepy eyelid, dreams set free to roam behind it.
You see now.
The Shade is a mercy, a welcoming veil into what the Dark can love awake.