People do it all the time. I know that. And yet our 8 hour flight to Europe was one of the longest and most difficult journeys I’ve ever taken.
It was hard on the mind and body to fly all night, trying to sleep while sitting upright, then finally landing in a bustling major airport in a foreign country. You’re tired, sluggish and disoriented. The signs don’t make a lot of sense. Everyone’s in a rush, but it’s unclear what they are rushing toward, or away from.
When we arrived in Lisbon, it took us at least 20 minutes to figure out how to buy a train ticket to our apartment. How hard can it be? Money can only go in so many slots, after all. But the first decision in a new country takes on a ridiculously huge importance. I’ll easily blow five euros on the wrong drink on Day 10, but spending a euro too much on the first train is not allowed.
Thank goodness for adrenaline. The physical fatigue of a sleepless night is more than balanced by the excitement of a new adventure. On the way out, pure adrenaline goes a long way to getting you where you need to go.
After the first few days, we’re settled in to a new routine. Get up, eat, walk around. Every few days, move on. It’s a wonderful, invigorating, sustainable groove.
However, as soon as our route faces home again, a switch flips in my brain. Living in the present is no longer enough. Thoughts of home and the future flood in and time speeds up. When we returned to Amsterdam for our final leg of our trip, I felt like I was killing time until our plane left in four days.
And time just kept speeding up. That same eight hour flight home felt like a drive to Saskatoon, except with two meals. Just like that, we’re home.
But this new accelerated pace is all in my head. I’m jacked up, I can’t sleep, but all around me is slow. The grass grew, but not that much. That pile of laundry is still sitting in the hamper. There’s nobody out on the street. It’s hot like an August scorcher, but the peonies haven’t even bloomed yet.
It’s taken a week to get over the time travel and match the pace of the world around me. To get a good night’s sleep; to not just bolt up at sunrise and pace about. To hang out in the afternoon like the dog and the cat.
And then, in the evening, to plan out the next trip.