Heartbreak Hotel

The other evening, I was staying in a hotel for the board meeting of Romance Writers of America. I’d been out late the night before to visit a friend in the hospital, and I was tired, so I got into my jammies and took a nap.

This nap was interrupted by loud voices. There were a bunch of college kids staying in the hotel for a sports event, and it was pretty rowdy on my floor. But it sounded like these kids were right outside my door, so I went outside, prepared to go into full Get Off My Lawn mode.

Instead, I saw a young man and woman in the vending room right across the hall. He was sitting on the floor, sobbing, telling the young lady how much he loved her. To say he was sitting in a pool of tears would not have been an exaggeration. Clearly, she was breaking up with him, and he was utterly devastated.

“Are you okay?” I asked. They were, the girl assured me. “Have you been drinking, honey?” I asked the boy. No, the girl said. They didn’t drink.

The boy’s head was in his arms, so I couldn’t see his face, but he was crying and crying. I put my hand on his head as if I was his mama. “I have kids your age,” I said. “I’m sorry you’re so upset. I know it’s awful right now, but it will get better.” I told them my room number and asked them to get me if they needed anything. The girl thanked me; the boy did, too, and I petted his hair and told him I was sorry he was so sad. Then I left, feeling bad that I couldn’t do more.

I’ve been keeping an eye out for him, though I only know what his hair looks like; he never raised his head. I hope when morning came, he woke up feeling better; that he was able to have fun with his friends in this beautiful city; that he’s not embarrassed about crying in front of a stranger. I hope he remembers the punch of a broken heart, and it fosters kindness and understanding in him. And sure, I hope he remembers that a stranger tried to comfort him, even if she might’ve seemed a little strange with her pajamas and goofy hair, and that someday, if he sees someone in pain, he’ll stop, too.

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