On arrival at JFK airport in New York I spotted two small children, cherubic blond apparent siblings about 4 and 5, who embodied what might be the gold standard for bliss. They (or their parents) had created a mini-cave on a corner bench of a fast food dining area, kid-sized backpacks serving as pillows, sweaters draped from a utility pipe across chair backs tenting them in. Some strands of Halloween faux-cobwebs were stretched loosely across the foot of the structure to complete the scene. People pulling suitcases were rattling by just a few feet away, talking in varieties of foreign tongues. Loudspeakers were announcing flights, music was blaring from several directions. They were sound asleep with - I swear - smiles on their faces.
What is it about small and cozy spaces?
Safety, perhaps. Or comfort and peace. The most basic of assurances - all is well with the world - that can be in short supply these days.
Who among us didn't spend at least a part of childhood huddled under a blanket-covered card table with a good friend or a good book? Or snuggled, three or four at a time, into a one-person tent in the rain? The ultimate may still be the sleeping compartment on a speeding, swaying overnight train - as really was the case in the days of the Chattanooga Choo Choo.
These observations come to you from Pod51 - which, as far as is known, gives no discount for free advertising in the blogosphere. Planning a quick trip from San Francisco for a family visit, this writer Googled "mini-hotel" in search of something we'd read about not long ago. And up popped the Pods.
The pods are one step - perhaps two or three steps - above the "capsule" hotels that first appeared in Japan and China in the late 20th century and boil down to just that: an oblong capsule into which one might slot oneself for a good night's sleep but not much standing up or roaming around, and a few too many similarities with drawers in a morgue for yours truly.
But the pods in the Pod Hotels? Snug. I went for the Full Pod, which includes a teeny tiny bathroom accompanying the teeny tiny desk and sort-of double bed in the teeny tiny room. With just enough floor space for my grown, Outward Bound employed daughter to roll out her sleeping bag - and we both have smiles on our faces.