[The Generally Write blog has suffered lately, I’m sorry to say. I have been traveling a lot in the past couple of months, including trips overseas. The good news: stay tuned for lots of travel/adventure entries! To make up for lost time, I thought this essay from 2009 might help explain the feelings of re-entry common to anyone suffering jetlag. It was originally published in the online journal, Airplane Reading, which can be found at www.airplanereading.org]
The first thing is the light, opaque like glacial runoff. At first, I don’t even recognize this murky peculiarity as light, but I can see that it is somehow framed, organized.
After some time, it occurs to me: it’s a window. The thing hovers, open to the stars of a moonless night, or maybe the faintest infusion of pre-dawn.
Where am I? I don’t know. I don’t know, but it doesn’t really matter. I know I am lying in unfamiliar air with a big, open window.
Night noise floods in, louder than the underneath hum of crickets. Not man-made, although there is also the lonely sound of tires passing fast on a distant roadway. It is a whine more urgent than crickets. Cicadas maybe.
I am floating up from a deep place, an indolent, looping spiral. I am on my back. I am on smooth cotton sheets. I stretch myself into a five-point star, and barely reach the edges of this bed. I am in a certain season, maybe summer, but late summer because of the cool air, the cicadas.
Lazy, a mud bubble, the thought rises again: Where am I?
Wherever I am, I am not where I have been lately. A whisper of exotic memory echoes bottomless, relentless: trolleys, horns, bustle. Scratchy sheets. Airless rooms. Beds too small to stretch. This place has none of that. Is this a dream?
The weight of my body returns, leaden. I cannot imagine rising. I detect stiffness, puffiness, a cramped echo of sitting, sitting, sitting for hours.
I am a wave exhaling into sand.
I manage raising my arm. A wristwatch hovers, its glowing dial on two-thirty. My mind still lacks quick measure; I am slow-witted, dull. I am alone with a certain stillness except for a ceiling fan, turning slowly.
Where am I?
I move only my eyes, inventory the room. This bed draws my body to it, flat, heavy. A minute passes. Another. No, this is not a dream. An aftertaste of recollection filters into my waking mind, of aircraft engines throbbing, endless motion. Ah yes: my transoceanic journey ended. I am home.