I'd like to think that I'm a person who notices small things, but I'm really not.
The finish on my bathroom faucet is wearing away, antique-color brass shining through the tacky chrome. There second mirror also has blank splotches, popping up like dead pixels. It reminds me of old mirrors made with real silver backing, that look almost intentionally ancient. As a result it's probably the most beautiful thing in the hotel room.
These kind of hotels are my favorite. No matter how many uninspiring prints you hang, no matter how clean the creases on the copy-paper-white sheets are, no matter how much blonde veneer you cram into it, it never looks like a "modern" hotel. And Sydney, being a terribly young city, hasn't become paranoid about being old yet. It'll come soon enough, I'm sure. She'll begin to spot wrinkles, and complain that no one stops and stares at her opera house anymore. Not yet though, and that makes her more innocent and charming than either London or New York -- cities which she could try to imitate, but doesn't.
The hotel, then, has not been remodelled in any way that an American would think of 'remodelling.' To date they've fixed my toilet, changed my shower head, installed a clothesline, switched out an electric tea-kettle and sent me to a new room so that they could paint the old one, but they are not technically remodelling. They're painting too, slowly, working on the lobby only on weekends, and I watch the workmen cringe as I walk by (as if someone sent them a memo regarding the fact that I should never, ever be allowed within a five block radius of paint, caulk or any non-newtonian fluid.)
But the hotel is emphatically not being remodelled. The levels are split between two joined buildings, so "Floor Three" has two floors, which part gracefully at the stairs, and come together again wherever they please. Every time you walk down it's a little like wandering through tangled old Spanish streets, complete with peeling paint and flashes of other lives as they exit their private spaces.
I'm not one of those people that likes things "rustic" and dilapidated for the sake of it though. Dirt, in my opinion, does not add to a thing's charm. I doubt that I will ever change my mind. But I'm willing to put up with little, infinitesmally small things -- a headache from the wet paint; a constantly-wilting shower head, which has prompted constant, tasteless jokes; or a non-functional TV which I won't use anyway; the noise from the facelift on the room next door -- just to be in this beautiful, haphazard old building. I felt the same way in San Francisco, with all the houses built shortly after 1906. There is something very nice about something old that has been cared for, which is different and more variable than the pleasure of something new. It provides its own kind of novelty, because everything is old in a different way I guess. I don't know. I never gave it much thought. Maybe I should.
I think I like the haphazard nature of it more than anything. In a museum I feel like I'm being coralled. The plaques, no matter how fascinating they are, tell me how to see a thing, and so I never notice it for myself. I feel like I'm reading a textbook, "simplified" until the subject is so boring I don't remember why I was reading it in the first place. But in a city -- at least a city where the past is not conscientiously erased and rewritten for the sake of current mores or trends -- it seems more natural. Finding a rare flower in the grass on your morning run is a different experience from seeing a picture of it. You are not told that it's beautiful. It's not laid out for you and shot from the best perspective. You have to find out for yourself.
If I were the lucky enough to be thinking about things all the time I might be able to keep a journal, but I'm not, so maybe I'll just do a weekly instead of daily.