Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Room Full of Secrets

Following yesterday's post about the Wayside Inn, I need to address the room we stayed in.

When we checked in, it was still daylight out. We got to walk around and be nosy in every nook and cranny of the old inn. The best discovery we made was in our own room.

There was no television, no internet, no radio, no noise. We were left in our room to our own devices. The first thing I did like a monkey was to look around at all the fascinating old furniture, the glass in the windows, and the wide-planked wood floors. Chris immediately opened the drawer of the bureau to investigate what there was to play with.

Much to our surprise, we found a drawer full of letters.

I did all I could to read through the letters as quickly as possible. Letters from one traveler to the next traveler, welcoming each person who finds the stash of letters to the "secret drawer society," telling about this moment in their lives and where they're going in the future. There were hundreds of letters. The oldest one we found was from April of 1988, but we later found out that there are archives of letters kept by each innkeeper.

I couldn't read them all. I couldn't even organize them all. Some women who wrote their notes talked about how they stayed up well into the early hours of the morning trying to read and organize the letters by date and failed. When we found the letters, they were in complete disarray, which didn't matter much.

It was like an old fashioned version of This American Life. People from all over the country, hell, all over the world write about their travels and their lives. Everyone was so friendly and kind, and offered advice for the best places to get X, Y, and/or Z in their letters. It seems the Wayside Inn is very popular for Thanksgiving.

This re-occurring mention of notes #127 and #89 kept cropping up in the letters. People had numbered the letters according to the chronology of the stays. #127 was one of the "best" notes written and #89 went "missing." Many of the letters I read talked about the on-going search for these letters throughout the room. I read one as soon as Jaunary of 2010 that said #89 was found in the room, and confirmed to be there.

There were riddles and puzzles in the letters, trying to point each reader to where #89 and #127 were hidden. Chris and I tore the room apart looking for the letters, but could not find them. We found notes from others all over the room, though. Behind mirrors, in the strangest places in the bathroom, all sorts of neat little things from those who had tried what we were trying. We added our comments about trying to find the letters, and offered words of encouragement to the people who find our notes next. Some of the notes left by others were so inspiring, so loving, so connected. Some even brought me to tears.

This was better than television, and when I think of a "getaway," there's nothing better that I can think of other than this kind of getaway. I wrote up a letter of our own, noting where we were in our lives, and how thrilled we were to have found the stash of letters. We found a whole different stash in a secret place. I don't want to ruin it for anyone else, so I won't say where, but that's where I read the majority of the clues regarding #89 and #127. We also read that the other 9 rooms have different kinds of secrets, and that one is haunted.

I'd never heard of the "secret drawer society." Is this popular among inns and bed & breakfasts?


ImplausibleYarn said...

I've never heard of a secret drawer society before either but it sounds like a charming idea!

Made by Hand on Planet Earth said...

That is too cool! It gave me goosebumps. I love reading old letters. I hope I get to discover something like this someday!

Tasha said...

Wow. I thought you were going to say it had a hidden bookshelf, or something. This is much better.

How awesome. =)

Sassafrass said...

There were all sorts of things left by other people almost everywhere you could think of. "Responsible" graffiti. Hidden. Most people don't take the time to look (myself included, most times), but sometimes, curiosity pays I guess. :D

Michelle said...

How fabulous! It's always the small and unexpected things that make a place special.

Kate! said...

Wow- this is so amazing! I love that you contributed to the drawer. But really, how could you not?