I like to be home. With my husband and my dogs and my garden, I like to be home making soup and writing. You may think I’m an extrovert, and maybe the shell of me is, maybe my skin, but inside my heart is a quiet, still homebody.
So I am scheduled to go on a work trip. I am set to travel, and not with friends or family, but with a tiny tube of toothpaste and the black pumps I hardly ever wear. I’m not excited because we are headed to Florida in the middle of summer and humidity is a known enemy. I tell myself it will go by quickly; I bring books and trail mix to distract me through the nights.
I arrive at the conference and my smile is shiny, my palms are sticky with sweat. I talk and laugh and work the room. I’m disconnected and far away so I feel nothing until I look down to find the most atrocious hotel carpeting looking back up at me. Thick woven fabric, bold colors and heinous swirls, I think, “Who walks here? How many people are not home?”
Suddenly I am squatting. I am touching the floor. My hand is rubbing the coarseness. I feel lastima for the sea of suits and the echo of chatter and the eagerness to sell. I feel lastima for the business and for the hustle, for the speed with which we live and for the need to run. Most of all I feel lastima for the person with extraordinarily terrible taste, the one who chose this carpet.
A new person approaches my booth. It’s much harder to work when you’re crying so I get myself together. I’m centered now, I’m open. I don’t dare glance at the ground again, but the whole time we chat it feels real.
p.s. Hotel carpeting in Florida is especially bad.