This is the magic teapot in the “Petite Cuisine” room for solo travelers at Deetjen’s Big Sur Inn. Deetjen’s is more than 100 years old and is a treasure in and of itself. It has no telephones, internet access, or televisions, and it uses woodburning stoves, so it always smells like campfire.
I stayed in the Petite Cuisine last December, and on my first night I went through the cabinets and found stacks of community journals dating back to the mid-90s. They were filled with the kind of raw honesty only solitude can bring.
People came to Big Sur to forget old lovers and rediscover themselves. They drank red wine and went hiking in the rain, placing their clothes to dry in front of the room’s tiny electric heater. One guest was an unusually wise teenage boy whose parents were staying down the hall. One was an old woman who had stayed in the exact same room nearly half a century earlier.
I felt an almost tangible connection with these other solitary travelers. I laughed and I cried. It was spiritual as fuck.
When one entry said that I should “be sure to check the teapot,” I knew right away to reach for the tiny copper thing on the windowsill behind the bed.
I popped it open and found a collection of treasures: photographs, pieces of cloth, dried flowers, inspiring quotes written on napkins, chewing gum. I laughed and cried some more.
Before I left, I deposited a tiny pinecone from my last hike in the teapot. Multiple journal entries claimed the teapot held some sort of magic, and in a place like Big Sur, it’s easy to accept such statements as truth. A childlike part of me hoped that shoving some more crap inside the teapot would somehow bring me peace long after I returned to my cubicle in the Midwest.
But the magic faded when I got lost on the drive to the airport.