Reporting In After A Trip:
Time away: 8 days
Duration of flight home: 4 hours, 7 minutes
Time zone difference: 3 hours
Travel time door to door: 8 hours
Time it took to realize how dog tired I was: 3 hours resettling and unpacking, 6 hours sleeping,
2 hours doing a quick run to the store plus breakfast, + 1 hour of Zumba
We spent the week in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where my husband’s mother lives. Now 97, she needs family available on a regular basis. So while my sister-in-law went on vacation, my husband and I were the family-on-the-ground. The trip was highly successful, despite one very sick day for my mother-in-law, and we left with the satisfaction that comes when challenges are met and human connections sustained.
As is typical, the travel home was arduous — long, tiring, and entrapping. Four-plus hours in an airplane, especially in the middle seat, enervates the body and leaves a few kinks in the spirit.
So when I woke up early, still on Eastern time, I went to a Zumba class to jumpstart my body. I had done well on the trip physically, keeping my neck happy and avoiding pain. Perhaps I was overly confident, even cocky; or perhaps I just forgot all the ways I needed to be careful, but by the end of Zumba I felt more muscle tension than I’d felt all week long. An hour later the pain began—some prickly pain here, some throbbing there. I lay down with an ice pack on my neck and fell asleep, face down on the floor.
Reentry from a trip is tricky business. How does one jettison the jet lag and emotional leftovers? How does one get grounded and find the way back to stable routines? How smooth or bumpy is the ride back to the ordinary? What makes for a satisfying return and what is an “oops” or a disappointment (like my sore neck)?
It’s easy to think of reentry as a trip to the grocery store and several loads of laundry. But reentry demands more than household management. Reentry involves collecting oneself physically, emotionally, and mentally and restoring what has been sapped by the trip. Having been taken out of my time, my space, and my routine, I must now reconnect inside myself. I can get grounded only if I remember myself, remember my life.
It took me a long time today to come to the point of writing this blog. Yet as I do so I remember what is always true: writing brings me back to myself. Writing is at the heart of me, and at the heart of reentry.
Questions for Refection: What does the idea of reentry after a trip mean to you? What experiences have you had with reentry—for better or worse? What do you find helpful in getting grounded and reentering ordinary life after a trip?
Writing Prompts: “The hardest part of coming home after a trip is ______” (then keep writing); “I’ve found it makes reentry easier if I ______” (then keep writing); “When I return from a trip, what I need most is ______” (then keep writing); “I remember one time coming home from a trip, when ______” (then keep writing).