Hiding from the Feds in a luxury hotel
I'm a tax refugee.
I’ve fled to the USA to finally do my Canadian taxes. For months, I’ve been dreading looking at last year's receipts, mostly because I'm worried about having depressing flashbacks to my separation.
Right after the split, I did the worst thing a man can do after a marriage breakup: I bought a bottle of scotch and a large-screen TV, then I rented the Pixar film ‘UP’. I was looking forward to having a laugh in the new bachelor pad. But when I saw the ‘married life’ scene (when the old man realizes he’ll never get to fulfill his dream of visiting Paradise Falls because his wife has died), I cried for an hour alone in the dark.
Ever since, I’ve avoided revisiting that winter. Hell, I’d rather be a radar antenna repairman at a Libyan airport than look at that stack of sad receipts.
But now I’m months late with filing, and the Feds are hounding me. They pressured me so much this week, I stuffed my receipts into a suitcase and made a run for the U.S. border.
Now I’m holed up at the Sorrento Hotel, Seattle's first boutique hotel. It opened in 1909, just in time for the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition, a world’s fair that sounds so horribly dull, it’s fortunate there was a hotel nearby for people to sleep off their crushing boredom.
The Sorrento boasts Italianate architecture, and 76 deluxe rooms and luxury suites, “no two of which are alike.” The Luxury Suite was featured in the Tom Hanks/Meg Ryan film, Sleepless in Seattle, a movie that was made way back when people still wanted to see Tom Hanks in movies.
The Sorrento’s a swank place with deluxe features like goose down pillows (with “different firmness levels available upon request” if you’re the type of guest who enjoys wasting people’s time), Venetian marble bathrooms with porcelain pedestal sinks, your own wet bar, and French doors separating the bedroom from the living room sofa.
It’s the kind of opulent hotel room you see in a Jean-Claude Van Damme movie where he throws bad guys through French doors that separate the bedroom from the living room sofa. [Note to the tax men who are chasing me: I can’t really afford to stay here, so I talked the management into lending me a room by saying I’m on a “Top secret travel writer fact-finding mission that requires me to find facts on 400 thread-count Egyptian cotton linens.”]
My suite is HUMONGOUS. It takes me a full 30 seconds to walk from my bedroom to the bathroom. This isn’t necessarily a plus since I drink a lot of fluids, and have the World’s Smallest Functioning Bladder.
However the sheer size of this room is perfect to make my taxes feel like a small, achievable task. I now have tiny rectangular papers spread them out on every teak desk, mahogany coffee table, and Italian marble coffee station.
And now that I’ve got my past all out in front of me, I’m sorry I took so long to do it. Because let’s face it: you can learn a lot about the quality of your life, simply by studying where you’ve opened your wallet.
Some men are buried under a mountain of stressful medical or legal bills. Other men have a pile of oily receipts for repairs they made on their crappy beater car (i.e. me in the years 2001 through 2005).
Me? Last year I bounced back from the split to become a travel writer … a dream job for many, and a saving grace for me.
I have greasy, sun-bleached receipts for fish sandwiches I devoured in Sweet Daddy's roadside diner in Long Bay, Jamaica. I have boarding passes from a dozen airlines, restaurant and bar bills from the Vancouver/Whistler Olympics, patios in Prague, terraces on the Kenyan savannah, and resorts on the sunny island of Guadeloupe in the French West Indies.
As I kneel before my receipts in this fancypants hotel, my dog stretched out beside me on his doggy bed [next to the hotel’s bowls marked ‘Food’ and ‘Water’ because my dog can read], I realize something important: I'm living a charmed life and I have the paperwork to prove it.
I’m not bragging or beating my freckled chest with pride. Nah, I’m merely reminding myself that last year was actually a blast -- and not an explosion I need to run from.
-- Ken Hegan
Read all of Ken’s Tripified travel posts here
Ken was a guest of the Sorrento Hotel
Movie poster: Disney's Pixar Animation Studios