Bill Bryson once wrote that arriving in Australia was an achievement in itself. Not so for me.
I had big plans for the long haul. I would catch up on work. I would take care of errands, all those effortless tasks that I consistently find excuses not to do. Like downloading the thousands of images from my iPhone to my laptop so that I won’t get—yet again—the dreadful “memory full” message just when I have the perfect picture in my frame. Next, I planned to catch up on my reading. And, finally, to reward myself for the hard work, I’d watch a bunch of movies. As it turned out, I only caught up on my sleep.
You can imagine how disoriented I was when I stepped into Sydney’s blazing sunlight after all that sleep and not even a drop of caffeine. It had been in the 20s and snowing when I left Chicago. I had nearly missed my connecting flight in LA because the plane needed de-icing. I’d left on a Saturday and even though I’d spent only one night in the air, it was now Monday. Talk about a short weekend! At some point while I’d slept, we’d crossed the International Date Line and, just like that, we’d lost a day. November 16, 2014 had been wiped from my life without a trace. It’s one thing to lose a day when you’re twenty—plenty more where those came from—but once you’ve crossed into middle-age, you get stingy about your days. Then again, it surely would have been yet another frigidly cold day. And just to play it safe, I convinced myself that it would have been a day filled with embarrassing encounters, bad news, and endless opportunities to make a fool of myself. There. I was now free to enjoy my escape into summer!
Until, I walked into my hotel lobby. I blinked confused at the Christmas trees that greeted me. There were not one but three of them. Wait a minute, how many days had I lost on that flight?
It wasn’t just that summer and Christmas didn’t go together. If I’d left the United States surrounded by Christmas decorations, I would have adjusted more easily. But as it was, it felt like I’d fastforwarded a few weeks not just a day. Welcome to Australia!