It is 6 p.m. on the clock in my kitchen. I need the clock to orient me, although it is just a number - it doesn’t feel like anything. It is out of context as I slowly emerge from my longest journey so far - almost 40 hours of travel, including one 16 hour flight. I left my hotel in Kathmandu at 8 p.m. on Sunday night and arrived at my house at 10:30 p.m. Monday night. Nepal is 12.45 hours later than Tucson (yes, they use a quarter-hour difference; no, I don’t know why). I lost track of time, day/night, breakfast/lunch/dinner somewhere over the Arabian Sea when I awoke from my first of many “naps”. I didn’t even try to keep up - I just reset my watch each time I landed. I practiced “be here now” - ate when there was food, slept when I was tired, watched movies, and read. Not bad really.
Wading through the return time warp is different this time. First, my luggage is still on its way back from Houston, so I’m not engaging in the usual unwinding of all that prep and packing as things get washed and put back in their usual places. (All went well in the developing world, where we assume there will be problems. The Kathmandu airport was hot and crowded and chaotic but they managed to get my luggage tagged and on my plane just fine. Here, in the developed world, we have all kinds of computerize systems on which people depend. Things can look ordered, but there is chaos - like three different places to drop off your baggage after clearing customs and misinformation from people not really paying attention. Welcome home!)
More importantly though, wading through the time-warp is different because when I was working there was a need to get “caught up” - to get “back to it”. Now, there is no back to an it, there is only forward. I can let this re-entry unfold at its own pace. Integrate the experience in a new way. At some point I’ll catch up with myself and the time zone and be able to process it all. And see how it will shape what forward means. Time will tell.