I’m in the city that never sleeps, and neither can I.
Fifty-eight floors above are surely enough to free me from the fray below. But even way up here I can’t escape the truth that me and this metropolis are soulmates. Because in spite of every virtuous reason it shouldn’t, like this place my heart always aches for MORE.
This city is never enough, not even for her. Blink and she’s reinvented herself again. Like an incandescent checkerboard, her hotels and casinos leapfrog one another into bigger, better, and brighter. All of it in the name of giving — but mostly in the receiving of — more.
Here on this hotel balcony more calls to the void inside me at the highest of decibels — especially in this season.
Like the Strip below, tree lights will blind and Silent Night (done fifty-eight different ways) will deafen or at least distract me from my hunger pangs. It promises to fill my empty, even if it’s just for a few moments until my stomach growls again.
Just in case I’ve forgotten, the ghosts of more from Christmases past happily tap me on the shoulder so I remember.
Like the year I asked my husband if he had a Plan B for the thoughtful, but not quite soul-riveting gift I received. (Which in all fairness to me was a cable plug wrapped in a beautiful box. Me: An exquisite bracelet? Him: You plug it into the wall.)
Still, I am quick to reassure myself that I’ve evolved. The following year, I determined to not let the allure of more reduce me to tears. I adjusted my halo, and announced that I would forgo a major Christmas gift — and settled on something small in my stocking instead.
I dove into the Advent season with untethered freedom, less distraction and more contemplation. This worked for about a week until I fell headlong into the fray. First it was the chocolate Advent calendar that sat hearthside with doors one through twenty already opened by December 1st. Next were the incandescent blowups lining my street, leapfrogging one another into bigger, better, and brighter. All of this was in the name of Christmas — but mostly in the receiving of — more. In the end, it was the glowing Christmas narwhal perched at the end my street that pushed me over the edge.
I changed my mind.
My husband being a man of principle held his line. So I Amazon-upgraded my stocking to five feet because I didn’t want to limit him. He countered by filling it with underwear.
There’s a showgirl in this hotel room. She’s transposed on the back wall, accented by a couch and a lamp.
Next to her and all she might offer, my kind of more still seems pretty benign. I’m not craving the royal flush, the casual hookup, or the all-you-can-eat buffets below. My more is not Vegas more. It’s noble, moderate more.
What’s so wrong with one more:
Remission. (What could possibly be wrong with one more of these?)
Still, I’m tossing and turning in this hotel bed.
Maybe it’s the overstocked pillows caving in around me. Or maybe this place is too much like a mirror: The one that first greets you after waking up and makes you want to look away. Maybe even my more, like the casino down the street and the city it sits in, is nothing more than a desert Mirage; a cheap imitation of the original.
Still I feel its pull.
“You inspire us to take delight in praising you, for you have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.” * (St. Augustine)
Sunrise, and its rays sneak through these coarse hotel curtains. This light feels strange and authentic as it caresses my skin. Deep within, I know that the “more” I ache for to fill me will leave me emptier still. There is but One who sees my heart in full and knows with what to fill it.
So I ask this One to cradle me like His mother did, when she soothed her baby’s cry on that not-so-Silent Night.
May our longings lure us here, to rest in these arms that are enough.
* Confessions, Book 1