She poked herself and smudged a little of her forehead on my glass door where I sit behind a desk, that I know will be the third to the last time. It was bright and sunny in Palm Beach this morning around 845 am maybe. So the lady inched closer, then finally invited herself inside the lobby and blurted, "I just really wanted to see what it's like in here, since I used to live here".
By this time, she caught my full attention since I'm all ears for the rich history of the hotel where I worked and how, what and why, that in between these walls, I feel conscious spirits still roaming the hallways day in and day out. I listened as she wandered her eyes in fascination looking up and down, around, and everywhere. It was as if she clearly pictured memories in her head in front of her while she told me stories of what the current restaurant, Trevini used to be, the E.R. Bradley's Saloon and how it was the best years of her life in Palm Beach to be a resident of the former Bradley House. It was a delight listening to her, it felt like an audiobook I randomly picked up from the library. There was something in her voice that I felt the authenticity from where I sat at that moment. For a moment, I straightened my posture from sitting and dove in the conversation and asked,
"when was this, what year were you here?", she replied, "1992..I think, yeah, '92 was our first year here, and we stayed in room 308, and the Clarks used to own the building before the Levins bought it, and back then, we didn't have the stainless steel appliances, but we had a cute little stove burner and a small fridge, but it was lovely! It was cute! I really loved the 5 years we were here", she glanced and pursed her lips.
Then I sighed heavily, took a deep breathe and asked more questions. At this point, she was thrilled I was interested, me looking at her with this big smile on my face, yes--I was enthusiastic about the whole "palm beacher this, palm beacher that" (which to this day, I still feel a bit indifferent about people who brand themselves like that). It went on for the next 3 to 5 seconds and she said, "yup, they kept the room numbers, the layout, except for the upgraded appliances", continued, "you know..that E.R. Bradley's when they moved it to West Palm Beach will never be the same, it changed so much, I mean--some young folks would come into the place and point to the chair where they got engaged, where they met their husband...you know, it was great", then she closed her eyes a little bit then ended, "you know, those were great years and I was very happy in this place, and I just really wanted to see it, I haven't seen it for more than 20 years, today was the first time, so thank you...thank you for letting me in to see it..."
Then, she walked out and was gone. I smiled and I think I was just staring too much to even bid and wave goodbye.
As soon as I snapped out of it, I realized how everything around us changes, moves on and, disappears. The only thing we have that really won't if not forgotten are our memories. We often hold on to them, both the good and the bad, beacuse no matter how many times you replay it in your head, it is the primary thing that can never be erased. This is no Eternal Sunshine for the Spotless Mind, this is it. You've done it, you've lived it, and when looking back to it, smile about it.
Goodbye, Bradley Park Hotel...maybe next time, I get to stay in this hotel as one of your guests and feel at home because for 8 months of my South Florida life, you were 60% part of it.