i wish

jet laggard

jet laggard
Written by Cathoel Jorss,

I wonder if anyone else has trouble adjusting after travel, it would be reassuring to me to hear about it if you have. It’s more than just jet lag. Arriving in Brisbane I was paralysed for days with a kind of deep-down soul sickness that made everything strange. The familiarity made things seem stranger. When I first got to Bangkok six weeks later, on my way back, I felt felled like a tree. Spent two days asking myself why on earth did I want so desperately to come here, where I am a stranger, where I speak only three words of the language, where I know nobody. Then when it came time to leave I cried all the way to the airport, my throat stinging. I had fallen in love with the dense tropical world in the rainy season that is familiar from Jakarta in the lost land of childhood. Berlin unfolds its sweet insouciant self, the guy in the topless gleaming car who drove by awfully slowly, his back-seat passenger a giant stuffed elephant, its velvet trunk resting familiarly on his shoulder. The man trundling past in a wheelchair by shuffling his feet rapidly forward on the ground, a beer stuck lewdly upright between his thighs, tattoos all up the sides of his neck and around under his ears and he was singing in a thick accent, absently to himself as he went past, “I did it… myyyy wayyyyy.” Yet the salty parks and shifting low green German trees hardly reach me, I feel estranged and alienated, the apartment in which no one has now slept for two whole months smells of masonry and dust and I can hardly leave my door, not even when the sun shines, not even when I know this won’t any longer be very often the case and that though a Brisbane winter is a winter in inverted commas I have actually by staying away so long let myself in for the nightmare that makes me want to lie down and cry: a year of continuous winter. My dislocated finger which was unattended two weeks while I was in the tropics has begun to sting so badly it wakes me out of my jet lagged sleep. I wonder if I’ll ever play guitar again. I wonder where I’ll live. I wonder what would have happened to a homebody like me if my folks hadn’t moved me from the town where I was born (Melbourne) to the desert on the far edge of Australia (Dampier) when I was eight months old. I learned to walk there, on the sand, and there is somewhere a picture of me and my Dad walking away from the camera side by side, my hand reaching right up and his reaching from his tall shoulder all the way down so we could hold hands. It was hard to leave him when I left. I felt the tearing in my chest as I stood up and walked away.

7 comments on “jet laggard

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *