What is luxury? I begin to think it must be relative. I’m going to stop with the travelogue postings just for the moment and fast forward to something I’ve been mulling over this afternoon.

It’s only in the last couple or three years where I have been at a place which allows me to consider, and occasionally obtain, what I might consider luxurious. This is not to say the world was a vale of tears before, or that I was raised on a shoestring and a crust of bread you understand, but simply that a) I hadn’t really had a lot of opportunity to travel; and b) whether at home or away, my situation was – while not desperate – tight enough that focusing on the necessities and on economy was generally the order of the day.

I doubt spendthrift is a word almost anyone who knows me might use in describing me; still, I like nice things (who doesn’t?) and the older I get, the more I notice, especially when traveling.

I guess the point of this is to say, I am so grateful that I have reached a place in my life where I can stay at a nice hotel. Funny, up until just recently, the words ‘stay’ and ‘sleep’ would have been interchangeable in that sentence. You check into a hotel, you leave your stuff, you sleep there, and you go and do whatever it was you came to do all day. The idea of coming to a really nice hotel, where you could not only check in, leave your stuff, sleep there, and go and do whatever … which also includes, staying around the hotel – this is an almost entirely new and amazing concept to me. I happily achieved a similar state of affairs in my home (as an adult anyway) just in the last three years: I love my apartment. I love Chicago too, but I love to be at home. I like to dwell there. One of the meanings of dwell is to linger.

Today I woke up pretty early, and pottered around in my room for a while, blogged verbosely away, went down for breakfast. Then I decided I should really go outside while the weather was better to see the town – so I did a little 5k loop around towards Clew Bay and back in along what we’d call a Rails to Trails line in the States. I popped in and out of some stores, got hungry, decided to go for lunch… back at my hotel. In the very comfortable bar area, I had some lovely soup, watched it rain outside, thought how glad I was to have snug wireless and tasty brown bread. Went up to my room and just relaxed. I enjoyed my meal in the hotel restaurant so much last night, I’m going back tonight … I know there are other places to eat here but I am just really loving dwelling in this super nice hotel. So easy. (And, the other place I thought of trying has decamped all the way down at the Quay, where I walked this morning; it’s rainy, it’s windy, that’s too far).

Is this what people do when they go on vacation? I’m not sure I’ve taken many vacations where the whole point was to ramble, do nothing and eat. I believe I have been applying my Protestant work ethic to my holidays all these years.

[NB: Another illustration/point I meant to include about the difference between sleeping and staying … when you sleep somewhere it’s usually because you don’t want to hang around there during the day, for whatever reason. My first apartment in Chicago: way small. Didn’t really want to hang around all the time. The B&B I was just at: certainly clean, and just fine, but not really a destination in and of itself. As a result I felt sort of thrust out into the city, which puts a certain amount of pressure on the place to ‘perform’ for me, I must say — Keep me happy! Give me a place to sit! etc.]