Lag

As far as I'm aware, I've never experienced jet lag. I have been on several long plane journeys but I've obviously not crossed enough time zones to be able to enjoy this experience about which I've heard so many people complain.

I've been trying very hard to get myself into a post-holiday, post-resumption-of-work, post-manic-weekend-rush-of-stuff-that-needs-to-get-done writing routine... and I seem to be achieving tiny nuggets of daily success... but the flip side is that I feel myself sinking into a fog of all the other things that come with writing, like feeling constantly distracted and being unable to focus on what's going on around me. And I wondered if this is what jet lag might feel like.

Nine times out of ten, I write in my room with the door locked, the blinds pulled down, the lights dimmed and my ears plugged with industrial-grade bullet-shaped bits of foam (which don't quite drown out all the noise, but there we are... I suppose I need to retain some vestige of my hearing in case someone on the other side of the door feels the need to shout "Fire" or something...) Cut off and cocooned, I stare at a (very often blank) page or screen for over an hour, trying to think and feel myself into the world of a few imaginary people. By definition, this is a very still activity. The only parts of me that move are my hands and my eyes... and sometimes my feet, as I brush them across the carpet... which is oddly comforting. I sit and think and sit and write and think and cross out and sit and tap and think and write and cross out and think and sit and sit and sit.

And then, when the time feels right, I ease the plugs out of my ears, get up, unlock the door, open it and step from a blue carpet onto a dark pink one, and I might as well be stepping from one planet to another. I have to squint immediately (remember: I've got the lights dimmed in my room) which makes me feel like I've just woken up or stepped off a plane in a country where the sunlight beats off the tarmac like endless lightning. Everything around me feels louder than it normally does, which induces a tortoise-like retreat within my brain. I stretch my arms and my back, but I have to walk around for a few seconds before I feel comfortable with any sort of movement. And although familiar things appear before my eyes - the dining table, the back door, the car keys in a little dish on a shelf - what I'm actually seeing in my head is a scene that exists only on the ink-stained page abandoned in the twilight of the room behind me: a woman avoiding all communication with her husband; a dead baby haunting her parents; a man taking advantage of his wife's terminal illness.

And as I walk from the hall to the lounge - usually my first port of call - it actually feels as though I'm forcing my mind to catch up with my body and travel back into the here and now. But my mind is resistant. It's easier to stay in one place, especially if you know you're going to have to make the trip all over again tomorrow. But I keep walking and invariably someone starts talking to me and I find myself avoiding eye contact, because if I look at them whilst they're speaking, their voice and their mouth aren't quite in sync, which makes me feel even more dislocated, and anyway, it's not as though I can easily grasp what they're saying because all I can hear is a string of words, so I pretend to turn my attention to some terribly important letter that's conveniently been left on the dining table, but of course the person speaking to me realises they're not really being listened to and I try to make an effort to concentrate harder, which has the effect of making my brain more tortoise-like and I wish I were still in my locked room because there the walls don't shudder with noise and the floors don't sway and the light doesn't slice into your eyes...

...and I just wondered if that's what jet lag feels like. That's all.

Comments

Lorraine said…
I have one word for that post.

Wow.
Dariush Alavi said…
I'll take that as the kind of Wow to which one should respond with a thank you, so...

Thank you.
Omair said…
Seriously Dariush that was amazing. I was there seeing what you were writing.
Dariush Alavi said…
Well I'm glad you felt sufficiently moved to leave a comment. Nice to see you back on these pages, by the way.
Omair said…
I think I have mentioned it before I am the reader, not the commenter, so I do frequent your website quite a bit just leave no trace :).

But yes I was moved enough to actually leave a comment...which makes it a compliment in a compliment.
Dariush Alavi said…
Yes, you have mentioned that... and I admit I was being a bit cheeky. I know you visit my site often.

Reading Without A Trace. That would make a neat title, eh?

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