Rasma Says

Musings, deliberations, flashes of unaccounted for brilliance…

Stavanger festival for literature and free speech. Day 5. Retreat.

Thon Hotel Stavanger has a nice room they call the lounge. It’s not the lobby where there are chairs, sofas, computers and a Nespresso coffee machine. It more resembles the restaurant with a large selection of tables and chairs and benches and booths. There’s a wall television, an inviting bowl piled high with fruit, dispensers of dried bananas, granola, sugared almonds, a set of deluxe Nespresso machines that will produce any variety of latte macchiato you desire. It’s a large room with two walls of windows facing the street, Klubbgata on one side and a cobblestone pedestrian plaza on the other. Tall trees – could they be walnut? – dapple the sun and people walking under them and lounging at sidewalk coffee tables look happy. No one can believe the weather. The German hotel worker, who has come around several times asking if she can make me a coffee, fetch me some water, get me something, anything, seems concerned that I am not outside enjoying the sun. “It’s almost summer!” she exclaims. I smile, tell her I’m fine for now and know how to run the coffee machine for later, but would she please turn off the volume on the television, since no one is watching it. I’m alone in here. This room, the size of half a city block, is all mine. Writers like me live for this, to be removed in time and place from anything resembling real life. Even a hotel room with its hungering-for-companionship television cannot provide what a random momentarily abandoned room in a public building can. The air is filled with a sweet buzzing that may come from inside your brain, the hum you call silence, or may come from the mass of machinery behind these walls and on the street. This is not a remote cabin retreat in natural surroundings. No, natural surroundings would be making demands – set the fire, fetch some water, make the place liveable. This is urban, machine-driven, man-made – even the rose on the table looks comfortingly plastic, the bloom cut short and plopped into a fat vase of water that will not tip or dry out so the rose, too, needs nothing from you, will only give, if you can be bothered to ask for it, a cool soft texture, a faint scent, but you don’t bother smelling or touching it, nor do you care to remove it, let it be there, there’s room for both the rose and the ever-burning candle whose faint heat reaches you from its small votive hearth, room for your computer, and your books, and notebooks, and more room – such abundance from this table – to rest your long writing arms in perfect right angles, as you lean, eyes closed, toward the computer screen, and write, which is what rooms like this are for.

2 comments on “Stavanger festival for literature and free speech. Day 5. Retreat.

  1. Veronica Preiss

    Have really enjoyed these blogs 💚💚

    Sent from my iPhone


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