Every year, at about this time, my fellow teachers and I get to spend a couple of days at convention in Dallas. It's a relatively painless way to earn the continuing education credits we need; we only have to attend six seminars in the two days and there are many interesting presentations. We can sit in on sessions that deal with a multitude of subjects, ask questions, and spend some quality time in meaningful discussions with our colleagues. In addition to all that, we have hours of driving time to and from the convention...especially time sitting in the traffic. This gives us a deep and lasting appreciation for our uncomplicated life out here in rural Oklahoma where fifteen miles only take fifteen minutes to drive...and they are scenery filled minutes at that. Granted, there is scenery in Dallas, but if you look at it, you are liable to plow forcefully into the back of a line of traffic that suddenly stopped right in front of you to begin the slow funneling of four lanes down to two lanes for no apparent reason.
The convention is held every year at a large, glass, hotel, so I have to be careful with stones. It's a well-run, comfortable convention center, with carpet, architecture, and artwork reflecting a theme--all lines and circles, beautifully coordinated, like planets and plumb lines. In the background, someone is always playing ambient music--trumpet or piano; it makes you pad noiselessly down the long, quiet hallways with a swing to your step, feeling like you are in a movie and wondering when the music will modulate to a minor key and the desperate chase scene will begin.
The hotel itself is like a living biome. Everything is quietly running, as if someone left things turned on: Water runs from the atrium cafe, around in a circle to fall quietly down to the lobby pool; curving escalators run endlessly beside it; straight lines of glass walled elevators run constantly up and down--beads on a string with lights all around like so many bathroom vanity mirrors. Along the edges of the wide rooms and corridors run whispering servants like meek, brown mice; they congregate backstage--in bone, bare halls behind the walls where the stairway exits lead.
In a corner of the atrium, past the empty bar and grill,there's a little cafe. You can slide in there quietly after seven, and pay eighteen dollars for their breakfast buffet, or you can get by on the coffee that comes with your room, and buy a banana for a dollar and a half in the hall next to the general assembly. There's a Starbucks in the lobby, but there are no vending machines with little packages of crackers and peanut butter.I did finally discover a coke machine on the third floor. I found the pool too--a small one being totally occupied by a gentleman reading his paper in the early morning cold
Speaking of early morning...that hotel had a lot of it.
Well, maybe I should explain that. I'm not used to noise--city noise that is, so I woke up at five thirty each morning, showered, dressed, and slipped out of the room so I wouldn't wake the other two teachers--those with aspirations of sleeping until eight o'clock.
Anyway, as I roamed around looking for a chair, a table, and an isolated place to grade papers, I took pictures, rode the glass-walled elevators up and up through the gridded roof at the sixteenth floor until I reached the twenty seventh, which is as high as any human should ever have to go without an airplane under her. It didn't take me long to push the down button, and hold my stomach all the way back to inside views overlooking the grand lobby. Every now and then along the walls, there were bubbled balconies covered with ivy basking in the light of higher bubbles. I noticed that when my camera lens focused on the oval carpet by the elevators, It gave it an unusual bubble shape of its own. More circles and lines.
By the time convention was over, and we had braved rush hour traffic in Dallas, I felt like I had my own circle/line theme going: My head was going in circles, and I just wanted to make a bee-line for home...ah...quiet foggy streets in the morning.