UVa Visit Part 1

This entry may be a bit odd. The first part is something I’m writing now, whereas the later portions were written in my hotel room the day that I arrived. If tenses start going wonky, that’s probably the reason.

The trip to Charlottesville wasn’t notable, except perhaps for being the first time I’ve had two flights in a row next to somebody who needed a portion of my seat in order to fit. The first woman I sat next to was morbidly obese–the second was merely very, very pregnant. In any case, I had to squish myself up to fit.

A Ph.D. student from the department met me at the airport and drove me through Charlottesville, pointing out this place and that one as well as giving out some good advice for choosing advisors and projects. (“Make sure that there’s a good chance to get your name on several publications before finishing…”) We actually drove past my hotel to the downtown pedestrian mall, which is lined with restaurants, bars, cinemas, and theaters. For a small town–and Charlottesville most certainly is a small town–there is a lot to do. I’m told that there’s a gelato place down there, but, sadly, I did not have a chance to partake.

When we got back to the hotel, I checked in, went up to my room, opened the door, and discovered an unmade bed, dirty towels strewn across the floor and SlimFast garbage in the trash can. Chances are that you can imagine the kind of look on my face. “Did UVa stick another prospective student in here with me?” I wondered. The room was a double. I supposed that it was possible. There was no suitcase other than my own, so I opened the drawers to check for clothes and discover men’s underwear, among other things. “Okay, now that’s not cool!” I hurried downstairs to ask the front desk if there’s supposed to be someone else in my hotel room. The woman looked pretty shocked when I asked. In any case, we got things straightened out, linens changed and such. Still, I plan to sleep in the bed the previous guest hadn’t.

The hotel room smells of stale cigarette smoke and urine with a tinge of old sweat. Not the most appealing. It does, however, have walls that are intact, a shower rod normal to the wall, and a door that locks, all of which make it not the worst place I’ve stayed in to date. I must admit to missing my flip-flops when walking barefoot, but I haven’t stooped to the level of jumping from on top of the bed to my shoes. Yes, that was necessary at one point.

This hotel and the incident after check-in are making me realize how good I had it at that Hilton. They’re also reminding me of older hotel stays of a questionable nature–the mysterious and frightening stains on the sheets at the Ramada Inn on that 8th grade band trip; the night spent huddled in our sketchy three-star room in Cairo where three of us slept on one sleeper sofa so that no one was stuck along in a room; or that dirty, little hole we stayed in our first night in Tanzania. (We didn’t know it would get worse.)

There are, of course, the funny stories: Megan thinking she would die from having brushed her teeth with tap water; Jamie sticking two contacts in one eye during our stay in the tiny London room where you could hear water screaming through the pipes. It’s amazing what even the littlest things will bring out memory-wise.

It’s times like these that I think I could write memoirs.

2 Responses to “UVa Visit Part 1”


  • Days Inn, Starke, Florida. Just down the street from a state penitentiary. 🙂

  • I could probably dedicate an entire chapter just to memorable hotels I’ve stayed in 😉

    It sounds like there’s a story behind that comment, Greg. You have to come here and tell me sometime. Soon.

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