Day: May 30, 2011

Thoughts in the Wake of the Convention

The trip home from a convention always feels much shorter than traveling to get there. The oddness of this phenomenon is increased by the fact that I spend the trip out reading and generally trying to keep myself occupied. On the trip home I spend most of the time staring at nothing with only my thoughts to entertain me. Conventions are a serious overload of stimuli, new situations, new people, new ideas, and new information. On the trip home I begin to sort it all, rarely do I get the sorting done before the end of the trip.

As we were leaving the hotel room on the first day of the convention, I saw Mary take out two dollars and leave them on the bed for the housekeeping staff. It was one of those “of course I should be doing that” moments. Housekeeping staff often changes from day to day, and each one does helpful tasks. I happened to come up to the room about an hour later just as the cleaning cart was about to get to our room. The tiny woman pushing the cart nodded and smiled at me asking “I come back later?” I smiled back and answered that now was fine, I was just grabbing something. She smiled and nodded several times to me. She had a beautiful smile, it made all the wrinkles of her face into joy lines. Throughout the weekend our room was always cleaned first. She smiled and greeted us every time she saw us. Mary says there were even little thank you notes in broken English. So much gratitude to be purchased at the low price of $2 per day. Sometimes little things make a huge difference.

The whole weekend was remarkably free of guilty moments. In the past I have always received a phone call from a child who is having some sort of emotional crisis. The child cries, I attempt to figure out what happened and to problem solve over the phone. Usually I can only help things calm down some and I have to hang up without knowing how it will all be resolved. Then I feel worried and guilty for an hour or the rest of the trip. This did not happen during the weekend.

I liked the lack of guilt and have been trying to deconstruct why it stayed away so that I can repeat the experience. It is possible that everyone was focused on letting me have a break and so they made extra efforts to solve their own problems. If this is the reason it means that I have been assisting in the creation of these crisis moments by placing myself in the center of every crisis resolution. I need to be stepping back more so that they can learn to work things out for themselves. I must think on it further.

Time to Go Home

In about an hour I’ll catch a cab to the airport. As I sat on my bed this morning contemplating my upcoming travel, I realized I was feeling homesick. The odd thing is that I was feeling homesick for California not Utah. California is where I grew up, and usually when I come here I have a strong “not my home anymore” feeling. This time I found myself watching the palm trees, ground ivy, and the architecture. I think it is a reflection of a longing for childhood or a simpler time. The feeling is a very quiet one. I’m only sensing it this morning because all of my usual thoughts are packed away. Indeed the minute I opened my laptop and saw my email, my mind dashed back to Utah and the interesting projects which are ahead of me.

However I am a little haunted by a conversation I had with Mary.
“I miss palm trees.” I said.
“Obviously you need to plant a palm tree in your yard.” she answered.
“Palm trees don’t grow well in Utah.” I answered.

As soon as the words were spoken I could see the potential meta-ness of them. My mind set to work trying to parse out the symbolism of the palm tree. There may be some there, or there may not. Either way I’m glad I’ve seen it and written about it. This way I have a link to that quiet feeling, a thread I can follow even when the trappings of my regular life flow in to fill up most of my emotional space.

Having described the homesickness feeling, I discover that I am also looking forward to going back to Utah which is my actual and emotional home. I will slip back into it like a warm and familiar coat. As I understand it, having a coat will be useful as the weather there continues to be cold.