As a professional person, I have both the pain and pleasure of getting to travel semi-regularly. There are professional conferences to attend, public talks to be given, business meetings in far off cities, and sometimes there are just vacations to see friends and family. Tonight I’m getting ready to fly to Boston to attend a meeting at the AAVSO. As I’m packing, I’m going through all my bag’s pockets trying to find things to remove to lighten by load. Its amazing the things we travel with. My “never leave home with out” stash of dayquil and nightquil fills one pocket, and a stash of pens fills another. I keep finding the dead batteries I refused to throw out, and have carried home from hither and yon to recycle. There are business cards I’ve collected and flash drives and CDs littered with backups of talks and copies off presentations. As I empty my bag, I seem to be building the skeleton of a conference past as I prepare for a conference future. There is a lot that you can learn from the garbage of a person. My clutter of not-needed-now cables, connectors and cameras screams, “Watch out, this one just might record your image, your voice, your data,” while the scraps of paper portray a pack rat not quite organized enough to record everything in my digital address book.
Tomorrow I hop on a plane to Boston. On the plane I will grade exams, read Forty Signs of Rain by Kim Stanley Robinson and work on some writing. Then for the weekend, I get to work hard with people I respect to shape the future of an organization I respect. While in Boston, I might be evil and spend too much money getting my hair dyed by someone I trust. And then Monday, I fly home, race to class, and it all starts over again.
The debris of this journey will most likely be less rich then the last. I’ll probably have some paperwork and dead pens, but nothing exciting. Perhaps, if I get to go to AAS in Hawaii this summer, I’ll have another empty bag sitting beside another fascinating pile of detritus.