This is the thing about jet lag. You become two people. There’s you, the one other people can see, and then there’s the you who looks out at the world and back at you in the mirror.
The first one is right on time, while the second you lives in another zone. This double vision increases, of course, according to how far you are from home. I recently made a short trip to Hawaii and back. Short, relatively speaking.
The 50th state is 6,000 miles away. That’s not the short part. Short refers to the length of stay. For a trip of that distance, a week or less is short because the second you barely becomes reunited with the first you by the time he has to bid him adieu once again.
There is a six-hour difference between East Hampton and Hawaii this time of year. On the day after my arrival, clusters of pink-skinned tourists, Japanese wedding parties, tattooed surfers, tattooed delivery men, tattooed road workers, tattooed schoolchildren, tattooed everybody were going about their business on Kalakaua Avenue, Waikiki’s main drag. They might have noticed me shuffling along, paying for a cup of Kona and looking out at the turquoise waves, but I was a facade. The real me was sound asleep within.
Not even the Kona, that magical coffee bean, could rouse the sleeper, and by the time he did wake up, the external shell of me was ready for bed. Ahhh, sleep. Yes, but jet-lagged sleep is where the two yous battle for temporal supremacy until eyes spring open like hatch covers, look at the clock, and declare fatigue to be the only winner.
Yes, I know about melatonin pills and not drinking alcohol on the flight (an oxymoron), but there’s no real cure for jet lag except to circumnavigate slowly. Just think, before jets, or even prop planes, the lag did not exist.
I was terrible at physics. In fact, at the very start of one semester, my college professor took me aside and told me to go find another course. I do remember snippets about the theory of relativity like the possibility of flying off into space and returning to Earth a few years younger than when you left. Way cool, but as I recall you had to go really fast.
No, the only real cure is to travel by ship, sailing ship if possible. Capt. James Cook faced many dangers and privations but jet lag was not among them. He had the opposite problem, the doldrums, which is interesting because when seriously jet-lagged, one slips into a doldrum-like state stuck between where you’ve been and where you’re going. Full circle to the doldrums. It’s the state I’m in right now, so I’m going
Russell Drumm is a senior writer at The East Hampton Star.