Earthworms Castings

With Jean Ponzi


I went away for a couple of days
For work
To a conference
Not far, just across the state

I used to travel-work a lot
Teaching, to meetings
Just pick up and zip off
Networking, learning, collaborating
Feeling like My Best Self, out there everywhere.

But the last few years I’ve reeled that in
Keeping my efforts closer to home
Zipping just around town
This trip, this fall, was a rare occasion

Had to plan:
What to wear – weather there?
Conference presentation flash-drived
Carpooling, lodging arrangements
Schedules to interview the keynote speakers
Plus plans to keep my home-front running:
Laundry done
Good meals for the family
Grass cut, bills paid
House reasonably tidy

Riding west, a Monday dawn
Across the state in a colleague’s car
Conversation mixed with radio listening
Miles fly
Soon: destination.

This was a typical conference setting
Hotel with ballroom, meeting facilities,
Outskirts of a major city
I stepped into a familiar experience
Old friends from statewide projects
Presenting, networking
Sharing my knowledge, learning new stuff

Given a room just for me
Bed, bath, storage spaces
Big-screen television
Remote control I never have to surrender
Amenities for my convenience
Routine responsibility freedom

Dressed nicely
“Here’s my card”
Meeting, greeting
Treated to dinner
Receiving public appreciation

Back in my room, no one to report to
Jaunt to the Fitness Center?

Evening walk, electrically powered
Up and down “hills” in a room with no windows
Treadmill TV to entertain me

Can’t fall asleep? Watch a movie
Wake-up call with coffee waiting
Highway view that doesn’t open
Barely variable climate
No need to maintain this environment
I’m feeling a little disconnected

Crossing from hotel to meetings
Short distance, fewer minutes
Brief moments out-of-doors,
Not in buildings

Checking off my list of interactions
Needed and unexepcted
Engaged with the business I’m here to engender
While little by little feeling less
Than who I feel like, normally, really

Carpooling homeward in air conditioning
For my driver colleague’s comfort
In another round of conversation
Across the state, last leg of travel
Brain-power running on empty

At the rendezvous point, awaiting my husband
I step out onto strip mall pavement
Standing in the afternoon light,
In the heat and the breezy air of late summer,
I start to feel myself returning

That night at home
I feel how my own place
Compares to a private room of convenience
This spot on Earth where I am grounded
Has no comparison

It’s not a giant revelation
Not a thunderclap of awareness
I simply feel my home ground
Dimming into autumn twilight
With loved ones near
And the real air breathing
Surrounded by the song of crickets
City highway murmur in the distance

I reflect on the energies I invested
In travel, in talking, in distant connections
Satisfying? Yes, but temporarily

I am my real self, best self here
Every day, any day
Where I am grounded.

Catch Jean Ponzi’s Earthworms podcasts, weekly enviro-conversations, encouragement at your convenience: Earthworms.kdhXtra.org or through iTunes.