The wind is howling, sending sweet-smelling air in through the window. It’s 5 am and I’ve given up on sleep – apparently my body is very well aware, thank you, that in real life it’s almost noon. Ironically jetlag seems so much easier to conquer when having a busy shedule – give my system too much free time and it will spend it imposing my previous time zone on my current destination. At least it can’t be blamed for lack of ambition 😉
As is the way with sleeplessness I don’t really believe it will ever be day, or in the very least definitely not anytime soon. Looking outside seems to confirm my pessimism, it’s all dark out there. The window I’ve been looking out from my bed the last month speaks of daylight to come even before I usually get up at six, but here the sky is deep and dark still, with the sentry-tree doing a guard dance in the whipping wind.
It is strange to be back here. So many things I did not remember mixed in with the ones I do. Already en route it started, when I transferred to an American Airlines plane in Brussels yesterday. It was jam packed and after we all boarded we sat and waited for a while while an oil leak in the engine was fixed. It smelled somewhat noticably in the cabin, of gas and too many not all clean bodies in a small space, so at some point an American stewardess walks down the aisle spraying air freshener. The Belgians who were sitting in front of me were absorbed in conversation and didn’t notice her, but as soon as the scent of it started to spread they looked around wonderingly and dismayed not understanding where the odour came from. Some Danish people remarked that frankly the air smelled fresher before. Even on the plane I was back in the land of air fresheners (vile things!) where everything from candles to laundry detergent, tampons and paper towels come with added scent. Idrk!
Luckily not long after (well, technically it’s a 9 hour flight, strange how boring times always seem shorter in hindsight) upon landing in Chicago O’Hare I notice that it’s not all bad – this might be the land of too many artificial scents but it’s also the land of repayed kindness.
I was standing in line for immigrations, waiting with some semblance of patience along with all the other recent arrivals. Almost all that is, for one French or perhaps Belgian lady was loudly complaining about having it taking hours (not true, I think I stood there for no more than 15 minutes total), pacing back and forth in and out of line, trying to claim an earlier turn and making a nuisance of herself. The busy border officials seemed annoyed, and when it became her turn she was not exactly addressed kindly. In contrast the cute latino official with becoming 3-day beard stubbles asked me if I always smile this much, scanned my fingers and took my picture in no time and wished me a good time in America.
Immediately after, when waiting in line for customs, a customs official comes along and proceeds to ask me questions about my luggage, where I’m going, checking the form I filled out and so on – the usual routine. The line moved around us and got longer while I answer, and I predicted another 15 minutes in line before I could set out for the other terminal and my plane for Syracuse. But no – the official (who was also quite dapper come to think of it, with smooth dark mahogany skin. Does America post all it’s nice fit men in the receiving parts of its airports, or do I just only notice them now that I’m single I wonder?) remarked it was not fair for me to stand in line now that he’d let other people take my place in it and proceeded to lead me directly through customs around the queue.
I’d forgotten how much I like it when people smile back at me 🙂
Driving back to Ithaca, the distictively American design of shops’ neon signs, proper donuts (why do you think I flew into Syracuse?) shopping at Wegmans, people saying “Excuse me” though they pass you more than a meter away, the lack of effective throat drops, lots and lots of blue sky and greenery, sunshine and a breeze outside in the hammock yesterday afternoon. I’m back in Ithaca, no mistake possible.