I had jet lag before I even got to the airport.
Up until 3 the night before at the Ablärm/Icos/Discarga show at Mainusch, nervous as fuck, chain smoking, babbling about the places I’d be seeing in the next five weeks, trying to explain how far away from Baltimore Chicago and Colorado really are, taking requests for presents.
We got up at 7:30, and I hastily repacked my bag, hoping the wagon-chaos wouldn’t reclaim any of my things before I got them back into my little gray backpack. Then a coffee, a train ride, goodbyes, and off into the labyrinth of airport waiting rooms.
Airports are a strange perversion of purgatory, the people in them herded like cattle from one holding pen to the next, and finally into an enormous metal tube, floating thousands of feet above the earth (44, 387 feet right this very second, the screen on the far wall tells me). Time spent in planes remains outside of time and between it. The place you’ve left fades slowly into the stratosphere, while the place you are going doesn’t yet exist outside of your imagination. We are nowhere, and it is now.
On the first leg of my trip—from Frankfurt to Rome—there is a camera crew who appear to be filming some sort of wedding reality television show. The cast switch between Italian and German, and I, startled at the sight of the bright lights and cameras a few rows in front of me, think for the thousandth time about how little reality television has to do with reality. Then I think about how little this trip seems to have to do with reality, and I go back to sewing up the hole in my skirt. Handcrafts are calming, I hear.
The second leg of the trip—from Rome to New York City—is quiet: a tasteless vegan meal, several failed attempts to kill time with one of ten equally bland and mindless movies, a few hours sleep, a few chapters of Rant by Chuck Pala-Nobody-Knows-How-to-Pronounce-Your Damn-Name-Anyway-hniuk, the time between spent fruitlessly spent trying to imagine how it will feel to step off the plane in New York.
At customs I rush past the baggage claim—I’ve only brought a carry-on—and on through customs.
“What is the purpose of your trip?” The bored-looking man behind the desk asks me.
“Visiting my family,” I tell him. I can feel my skin beginning to glow with excitement. I am really here. Holy shit, I’m really here. This is surreal. Am I dreaming? Am I really here? Holy holy shit.
“Visiting family in Rome?” he asks skeptically.
“No, no,” I say quickly, pointing to the line on the entry form that lists country of residence, “I live in Germany. I’m in the States to visit my family.” He looks at my passport, then at me, and nods.
“Alright, then, have a nice trip.”
I rush out the last set of doors, and into New York.