I’m sitting in this sumptuous lobby of The Hotel Roanoke in complete awe of my surroundings. I have never been here before and I wasn’t prepared for the feeling that came over me when I stepped through the door – I have traveled back in time. I keep looking at the people around me to reassure myself that I am still in the 21st century. I can’t shake the feeling that women, dripping with diamonds, and wearing elegant ball gowns will suddenly sweep through the door on the arm of mustached gentlemen in top hats and tails.
My writer’s senses have kicked into high gear. Everywhere I look is a chandelier, painting, carpet, piece of furniture – begging to be described as a scene from a Jane Austen-type novel. This is my first perception of The Hotel Roanoke. Now, let me tell you about my second.
I got on the elevator, which by the way has a crystal chandelier, and went in search of my room. The moment I stepped out, the sensation that I had seen this long twisting and turning hallway before washed over me. Suddenly, I was in the movie “The Shining” and I will confess, I sprinted past room 237! (Stephen King fans will remember what was inside of room 237!) When I began to write this blog, I had to convince myself it was okay to type. Pictures of Jack Nicholson typing, ‘All work and no play make Jack a dull boy,’ ran through my head. Thank goodness it’s not winter! If one snowflake fell I would not be able to sleep here tonight!
Back downstairs, I watched the day fade away and the lights inside of the hotel come on. One by one, golden shadows cast a spell over the rooms. The sense that I had stepped though a portal into the past was stronger than ever. Now, I found myself avoiding those who shared my space. I didn’t want to be reminded that the time period I was imagining didn’t exist. I was jarred by men in golf shirts and women in shorts and flip flops. I wanted to see a horse-drawn carriage pull up to the doors. I wanted to see a debutante in a rose petal pink gown with a hooped skirt so wide she had to come through the door sideways. I wanted to catch a whiff of her perfume. I wanted to envy her white satin gloves, glowing silver in the muted lights. When laughter from the hotel restaurant drifted past me, scenes from every Henry James book I have ever read played like movie clips in my head. I could smell the fragrant coffee and taste the bread pudding with rum sauce. I could hear the tink of a China cup placed on its saucer. I knew that gentlemen dressed in dinner jackets with black velvet lapels would gather together after the meal in a room where they could smoke expensive cigars and drink brandy from heavy crystal glasses.
Today, the writer in me rose up and stretched. The atmosphere at The Hotel Roanoke kicked my senses into overdrive, and I held on for an exhilarating ride! Tonight I will sleep in this hotel, rich with the spirit of another time. Perhaps my dreams will be of a world that exists only in our history. I would much rather dream of dancing in the ballroom under a ceiling painted to look like a summer sky than be a character in “The Shining” who has to open the door to Room 237!