If you’ve ever crossed a few time zones you know what jet lag feels like. That sensation that it should be earlier or later than it is. That the light sure seems odd for this time of day. Go from the US to Europe (or vice versa) and your stomach will wake you at 4 a.m. Or when you get up from a nap you can’t recognize your own room as it’s been three weeks since you slept there. It messes with your body and mind and makes you beg for more sleep or a cure for insomnia, as the case may be.
But to add a bit of fun to the mix, when you have returned from visiting family, you get a case of jet lag of the heart, as well. Air travel brought you home in 8 hours flat but your brain is still swimming in the home vibes. You think you can just turn around and tell your mom or aunt something. You think you can just see your sister next weekend instead of next year.
This second kind of jet lag is more insidious. Once the physical stress of skipping 7 time zones has left you, the sight of a Target bag or a jingle in your head from an ad back home can make your eyes smart again. More than nostalgia for home, this sort of soul ache reminds me it will be a while before I am back home.
Leaving one’s family and country and culture behind all in one go is hard on a human body and soul. I should be a pro at it now, after 17 years. And if I cry less with time and experience, now my daughter cries more. She is starting to understand just how far away America is. She knows that two years between visits is a very long time (even if we are lucky to get some visits our way in between).
To see her break down in tears a few days after our return is hard for me to watch. I do my best to console her and extol the virtues of FaceTime and phone calls (trying to convince myself at the same time). And when she asks me why I didn’t just stay in America and marry someone there, I have to remind her that I wouldn’t have *her* if that were the case. And I wouldn’t have her brother. Who by the way doesn’t seem to show too many signs of this” love lag”, though he may well be as sensitive as his sister and me. Time will tell.
And as I must do every time, I try to get back into my routine, remember the things I *do* enjoy about being in France. I putter in my garden and try to plan cozy moments with the bi-cultural little family that is mine here. And I hope (in vain) that one day they will come up with a cure for this jet lag of the heart.