Happy New Year! I realize it’s almost February, but as this is my first post of 2012, I thought it appropriate to start off with a little well-wishing.
By the way, at which point is it ridiculous to wish someone a happy new year? After the first week of January? Once February rolls around? Is it always ridiculous? When does a new year cease to be new?
But that’s not what I’m here to talk about. No, I’m here to talk about one of my least favorite things: jetlag. It sucks balls. And I’ve got a mean case of it right now. So does Abby and so does Bret.
We went back to the States for a month over the holidays and now we’re back in Aqaba. It was a nice trip, full of friends and family and bacon.
We celebrated Christmas. At least, our version of it. At my mom’s place in Grass Valley, we all trekked out in the freezing cold to select a Christmas tree. After about 20 minutes of tromping around and debating which one was the most appropriate height and pedigree, we decided on a handsome Doug Fir with long, full branches. Bret had the distinctive honor of cutting it down. By himself. Sorry, babe. Mom and I hightailed it back to the house where it was warm and cozy and coffee and cookies awaited. My stepdad, Gary, videotaped Bret hacking away at the poor Doug Fir.
Once the tree was properly mounted (thanks again, Bret) Mom decorated it with about 100 glass ornaments while Bret scraped the sap from his body. I tried to keep Abby from ripping the ornaments off the tree and biting into them.
In the end, Christmas was very festive and the tree looked lovely but the branches kept poking Bret in the face during dinner. He was so gracious about it. He would gently brush them away and keep eating.
But, again, I digress.
Jetlag. We have it. It sucks.
If you’ve never experienced jetlag, here’s what it’s like:
1) You wake up at midnight, ready to start the day.
2) You’re not sure if you brushed your teeth today. Or was that yesterday? Is today yesterday?
3) You accidentally lock your keys in your car while the engine’s still running and your toddler is strapped in her car seat.
4) You find yourself eating a steak dinner at 3 a.m. and it feels right.
5) It’s 10 a.m. and you’re ready to hit the sack.
6) You catch yourself humming “Never Gonna Give You Up” by Rick Astley with no memory of how it got stuck in your head in the first place. I RickRolled myself. Without a computer.
7) You find yourself sitting in the dark eating an entire bag of Bugles and a tub of cream cheese. And it tastes amazing.
8) You pass out at two in the afternoon and sleep for 8 hours. Maybe 10.
If you’ve just traveled into a different time zone and you’re experiencing any of the above scenarios, you probably have jetlag. If you have not traveled anywhere at all and you’re experiencing any of the above, you probably have a drinking problem.
It usually takes me a full week to recover from the acute symptoms of jetlag, plus one additional week to feel totally normal again. Abby seems to fully recover in about 10 days. She’s a great little traveler, our girl. I’m so proud of her. She slept 9 of the 11.5 hour flight from Chicago to Amman. But then she was up all night in the hotel room in Amman. Bret and I ordered room service and took showers while Abby watched hours of Egyptian soap operas. She finally passed out at 3 a.m., one hour before our scheduled wake-up call.
I would have taken melatonin if I could. Apparently, it’s amazing. Bret took it when we went home to the States in December and he said it worked like a charm. It’s basically a “natural” sleeping pill that makes you pass out for eight hours whenever you need to sleep. Brilliant!
I decided I would try it on the return trip to Jordan. But first, I did my due diligence. I read the label on the bottle to see if I could take it while breastfeeding. Turns out, no. In fact, my health profile matches every contraindication on the back of the bottle. Basically, the label should have read: “If your name is Marjie Scott, you’ll die if you take this stuff.” So, I’m just sweating out the jetlag naturally.
Aside from that, it’s actually nice to be back here in Aqaba. Although, I cried on the flight from Chicago to Amman because I was already exhausted and sad to be leaving ready access to Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods.
More than anything, I was sad to be leaving my friends and family. It was so nice to see everybody face to face, person to person, in the flesh. I’m grateful for Skype but there’s nothing like being able to sit across from someone and look into her eyes or give him a hug. It was truly uplifting to be home. We didn’t get to see all of our friends because there just wasn’t enough time. We’ll be back in the summer. That’s what I keep reminding myself.
Being in the States was interesting after living in Jordan for almost five months. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again. We are so lucky in the United States! We have access to so much variety.
I went into a Starbucks the day after we arrived in Tucson and as I waited for my cappuccino, I heard the guy behind the counter holler, “I have two artisan ham sandwiches for Paula!”
Artisan. Ham. Sandwiches.
Paula, dressed in head-to-toe Coldwater Creek snagged her artisan ham sandwiches and skinny vanilla latte and off she went, her frosty highlights glinting in the sun.
Does Paula know how lucky she is that she can walk into any Starbucks and order not one but TWO artisan ham sandwiches, made to order? Paula, wherever you are, I hope you savored those sandwiches, or at least said a little thank you to the heavens (or your capitalist, democratic country) for them. Because, here’s the thing. Even if you don’t eat ham, or sandwiches, you must appreciate the level of choice we have in the United States of America.
Even if you live in a small town where there is nothing but a windmill and an inbred family next door, you can have just about anything you want shipped to your house!
And the freedom! I felt free to speak my mind without worrying who might be listening. I could wear what I wanted without worrying that I might be offending anyone or sending the wrong message. I only saw an occasional headscarf in the States and it was always worn by an older Muslim woman chewing on pistachios while her younger, westernized family members texted on their smart phones.
The women in the States wear what they want. They go out in public with wet hair. They feel free to wear sweatpants and tank tops, or fitted dresses and heels. The variety of dress in the States is only restricted by the individual woman’s taste and imagination. This has its own set of disadvantages too, by the way. A sense of decorum is always appreciated.
But the very fact that we are free to have good taste, or not, is so gratifying. Anything less is, quite frankly, soul-crushing. As a woman, as a person, I want to choose the clothes, job, husband, friends, the life that’s right for me. It was nice to be in a place, at least for a little while, that recognizes that.
It was nice to be home.