Stella Leventoyannis Harvey

Impressions From A Jet Lagged Brain

“Every perfect traveler always creates the country where he travels.” Nikos Kazantzakis, Author

The plane started descending into Athens International. I noticed the shimmer of the Mediterranean. Similar to a mirror, the sea reflects the light Greeks boast about when they describe the sky and the sunshine here. I don’t think this particular blue or this brightness exists anywhere else in the world. It takes me by surprise every time I come back. It warms me from the inside out, makes me think, I’m home.

I love travel. It takes me out of my routine. It nudges me to pay attention, notice things I usually take for granted.

But, it beats me up as well. I’m suffering with a painful sore throat. My brain feels stuffed with cotton. I’m wrung out and disoriented. I’m not sure I’m in my own body. Each step I take seems to require more effort as though I’m trekking a muddy mountain trail rather than big city concrete.

As I write this, I’m wondering what is so wrong with routine anyway. It gives you something to count on, doesn’t thrash you about.

Driving in from the airport, the streets are relatively deserted. I didn’t expect quiet. Then I remember it is May 1st. Labour Day. The shops are closed and people have retreated to the countryside for a weekend away.

I’m destabilized by the stillness. It’s the mayhem of this city I love.

We eat in a small restaurant we enjoyed the last time we were here. We’re the only customers. Where are the incessant conversations, the voices−nasal and insistent—that fall one over the other to make a point?

Is this a new Athens? A place I no longer know? In my current state, I’m not sure I trust my own perceptions.

I notice the server gazes at something beyond our table. Something on the street. Three or four police officers, guns and batons on hips, approach a car. Is there a crime in progress? My mind drags through this scenario, without an idea of what to do should this situation go awry.

A man stands beside the car, shoulders shrugged, a bottle of water in one hand. A few other men join the scene. I don’t understand what they’re saying, but there is no angry talk. There are suggestions, advice. The car has simply over heated. The police and the others have come to help. Why have I jumped to the wrong conclusion? I have no answers.

We return to our apartment. I open cupboards and drawers looking for something. Not sure what. Maybe it’s my way of settling in. I don’t know. Brain fog won’t allow me to remember why I started rummaging.

I finally drag myself to bed.

Wake up in the dark, thinking I have to get ready for this trip I’ve planned for several weeks. I can’t miss my flight. Still, my body refuses to move. Energy has slowly sapped out of me in the night.

It takes several minutes to realise as Dorothy did in the Wizard of Oz, I’m no longer in Kansas. Or in my case, Whistler.

I’ve already made the trip. Yet my body continues to be in perpetual motion.

It will all work out, I tell myself. Once the jet lag ebbs. Once I get my brain and energy back. It will be then that I rediscover the country I love.

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