Sunday, January 21, 2007

small entrance

The Star of Texas Inn is a small ‘bed and breakfast’ that has seen better days. The building itself is meticulously maintained. The garden is dead and wet after suffering through the January frost. The main entrance is boarded up, and all comings and goings are now allocated to a side door and it’s small iron gate.

The Inn is located in the student hub of North Campus. Its entrance is now moved to a narrow side alley with five parking spaces. It is in one of these rough cracked spaces that a cab pulls into. Out of the front of the cab steps the driver, who moves immediately to the trunk and pulls out a small case. Out of the back steps a young man, tall and well-dressed. He picks up the small case and slings a small computer bag over his shoulder. Based solely on his attire, his accessories, you expect him to move confidently, surely, but he pauses in front of the short gate, adjusting his bags and fixing his clothing. He takes a deep breath, pushes the gate open and strides up to the door with forced, nervous confidence. He pauses once more, this time in front of the door, and rings the bell. He waits a few minutes, but to him, it must have seemed like hours. An aura of nervousness hangs over him, apparent in every twitch, every self conscious adjustment. Finally the door opens, the young man forces a congenial smile, and slips inside after yet another deep breath.

Not seconds after our young hopeful enters another young man is spotted. He is dressed nicely but more casually, with his long hair pulled back in a low pony tail. This young man moves with a sense of confidence, of self assurance. He ‘jay-walks’, crossing the street in four or five large strides, smiling at passersby. He stops at the corner, a little out of his way, picking up bits of paper and wrappers from an over-flowing trashcan and stuffing them back where they belong. He continues on his course and walks along the side of the inn. He stops once again to pick up another glittering piece of litter before opening that little gate and jogging up the steps to the door. He, too, pauses, but his pause is short and with purpose as he simply and quickly wipes his feet on the welcome mat and enters, after with a cordial nod to the passerby at the corner.

It is a while before someone again enters that short gate. Many wander by the inn’s front door, never once noticing the narrow alley and its non-existent traffic, be it foot or automobile, much less the sign directing them to that alley.

This time it is a young woman laden with a few bags. She moves quickly, with no stops for cordial nods, environmental assistance, or confidence-building. In her ears are a pair of air buds, and if you look closely, a pattern and a rhythm can be seen in her quick step. She moves to the gate and pushes it open with her hip and dances up the path. She, too, pauses at the door, and, like our young hopeful, rings the bell. As she waits, she, too, emits a certain energy. She bounces on the balls of her feet, her hips swaying slightly to her music. The door is opened by the young man with the pony tail, who smiles and grabs a bag while the woman bounces inside. He peers into the bag with a grin and looks up. He spots the same passerby at the same corner, raises an eyebrow and after a grin and a shrug closes the door again.

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