I have never given birth, but I have been on a long haul flight. Sure they’re technically a little different, and yes only one of them truly comes with the risk of vaginal tearing (I think… I hope? don’t answer that), but in a lot of ways I believe my reactions to them would be quite similar.
When I prepare to travel from one side of the world to the other, there’s anticipation, nervous energy, and an attempt to pack for every possible scenario. Then about a third of the way through flying for 24 hours I want to press rewind and take the whole thing back – I suspect I’d reach the same conclusion while in labour, I’d just ask them to stuff the baby back in and suggest we forget about the whole procreation gambit.
So, if surrendering all concepts of personal space to economy seating is somewhat akin to the miracle of life, what does that make jet lag? Not the allegedly edible delight that is afterbirth – I won’t be pushing this analogy quite that far because… ew. It’s something else entirely, a different species altogether.
Jet Lag is a floating unicorn waiting for you in the arrivals lounge.
This unicorn to be precise…
Whether the unicorn is a balloon being held by the friend surprising you at the airport, or simply hovering at the edge of your peripheral imagination like Mike Pence (you know you should be more worried by him, but your brain can only hold so much fear for the future of humanity at one time) – everyone gets a unicorn at the end of long haul.
He (the unicorn, not Pence) represents jet lag as it should be seen – the surreal fever dream that haunts you over the coming days – surprising, slightly trippy and prone to getting in the way.
And as the days progress after touchdown, you believe it’s gone, but it hasn’t. You keep thinking it’s not really there, but it is.
|What unicorn? I can't see him.|
Said unicorn thinks he’s being uber stealthy, but what he lacks in audible noise, he more than makes up for with his vibrant plumage and habit of drifting into the background of photos.
Oh, hello unicorn, I didn’t see you there. You’re so subtle and unassuming.
Actually in that particular photo Jet Lag looks super pissed that Mother Painefull is utterly owning him in the competition to see who can be adorned with a wider variety of colours all at once. Jet Lag the unicorn has kaftan envy, but he’s also pretty much jealous of anyone in possession of a torso.
Jet Lag the unicorn haunted me for a full week – drifting casually through Mother Painefull’s birthday gathering, leering sarcastically as I reacquainted myself with the horrors of the Australian climate (sunburn, sweat, year-round competitive cooking shows), and looming ghost-like in my imagination as I tried desperately to find sleep in my childhood bedroom.
I can hear the disembodied unicorn chuckling dryly as he points out: "Nothing puts the ‘real’ in surreal quite like knowing you’re unemployed, living on the generous rent-free scheme of your mother, and about to turn 33."
There’s a reason Jet Lag has no friends – he’s a total arsehole.