Love at first flight.
Those who travel can relate. Post travel depression or (PTD). It’s real. We fall in love with the anticipation of a trip, we thrive in the exhilaration of making plans and we feel free once we arrive at our chosen destination. But coming home after spending days or even weeks abroad can trigger post travel depression and is quite difficult and can feel like a break-up after an erotic, tumultuous love affair.
You are probably all too familiar with my story.
We fell in love at first flight.
Your price, your destination and even the allure of free entertainment while I spend 8 hours in your lap is just enough for me to spend hard earned dollars on you.
We were destined to be together. My American culture coiled with the foreign one you offer. Weeks were spent planning our moments together. The things we would do, the people we would meet, the sounds of your native language that I would attempt to speak with my untrained tongue and most of all the lasting memories we would create.
I’m energized and excited to see you. I adjust my circadian rhythm to yours almost immediately and each morning that I am with you, I wake up early to explore.
Uninhibited, I seize the day as if it were my first and last. You have such a profound effect on me that you make me feel like the shapeshifter goddess; Athena.
I morph into a sociologist who is conducting qualitative research; I sit in a café and observe your people. An art critic examining the soul-manipulating pieces of art that hang in your galleries. An archeologist that studies the delicate details of your unearthed treasures. A conductor commanding the chatter and the sounds of your city.
Whenever I can, I touch you. In you, I am immersed.
In the quiet of the evening, I attempt to journal the day’s events, but the words turn into unfinished poetry. A subconscious act because I don’t want the love affair to end.
Our last days are near.
I sensed it when you asked me to meet you at the souvenir shop which I consider as one of Dante’s Nine Circles of Hell. I know this routine. I have done this before. As I slowly peer down at my list of “Please bring me back…”, I pick out the best magnets and shot glasses hell has to offer. Death feels like it looms.
Yearning to stay, I know I can’t. Not this time anyways. I rebelliously pack my bags with carelessness because a packing strategy no longer matters. Except I pack the bottles of wine and shot glasses with love because those are important. But that’s the only love I show because now my soul is becoming hard. Like a wrongfully accused prisoner who barely escapes death row, I am now bitter.
The flight home is delayed by hours because we struggle with letting each other go. The Delta staff hands me a crossword puzzle with a sympathetic smile to comfort me. They say they are “sorry”, but their English assaults my ears.
I arrive home even though I prayed the pilot would drink anti-gravity serum and we could fly forever. Or at least until I earned enough sky miles to fund my 401k of future travel. I’m slightly excited about breezing through customs with my global entry privilege, but overall my arrival home is anti-climactic.
My parakeet, that I don’t even have, barely recognizes me. I am different and it is seen on my tanned face and in the color of my vibrant Tibetan fisherman pants that I will never wear again and besides they don’t match anything in my “full of black” closet. And I wasn’t even in Tibet.
Everything is just the way I left it. Frankie’s ashes still in his little box even though I secretly wished he would have risen from the dead upon my return. The ability to use hot water when I want it. The flyers for 24-hour pizza delivery service and even the full-size refrigerator. All still there. Even the towels that I threw on my bed after a hurried shower. A reminder of those early days of our relationship where the only thing that mattered was being with you.
The first few days back home, I try to recreate you. I go to restaurants to smell and taste you, but it’s not the same. I frame my receipts from our dinners together along with the Metro tickets and labels off your favorite beer bottle.
I invite friends and ask them to leave their shoes in the foyer, because my culture has changed to yours. We play a game of Charades where every guess I blurt out is in your language, I have suddenly become fluent. I try to share stories but they just want to sip the wine and fumble with the magnets I brought them.
I post “more than enough” of pictures that are proof that you existed, that we existed. I only get a few likes and maybe a “So glad you made it back!” comment from mom. Friends and family have semi-acknowledged my return yet, showed their amazing support while I was gone.
No one understands the pain I am in. I tattoo a symbol of us on my wrist. As therapy for my post travel depression, I blog. My unfinished poetry is slowly forming stories that help me soothe the pain of our break up.
While I allow my pain to flow from heart to keyboard, I see it. A little, flashing, attractive blurb somewhere in the right side of my screen…it peeks my interest and my heart rate.
Butterflies form in my the upper most part of my belly at the temptation of a rebound. I click.
And so it re-begins. Love. At first flight.