Note: 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 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 manmade, 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.