I’m back. At least, I think I am. Brazil is such a huge country, and so far away from the UK that travelling from the centre of Brazil feels like an expedition in itself. I started back on Saturday, at 3pm local time, and didn’t get back to Birmingham until 1pm on Monday. There was the 20 hour bus ride, the hours of waiting at Sao Paulo airport, the 11 hour flight followed by another 1 hour 40 minute flight, and finally the taxi ride home.
Perhaps it was mostly tiredness and jet-lag, but I found that my senses got disconnected from one another. Like a group of tired children, they straggled along, getting out of synchronisation with one another. When I woke on the bus, sound roared in suddenly like a window opened on raging surf before sight and touch worked out where I was. On the flight, I realised that I had been staring at the back of the seat in front of me for several minutes after waking, seeing it, but not being aware of sound, touch or smell, or of thinking consciously about anything.
Bits of me kept getting left behind. I felt wide awake on the last part of my flight, then an intense, irresistible sleepiness ambushed me suddenly as we landed. Part of the problem, I think, is that long distance travel is done using stolen time, and there’s eventually a price to pay for that petty crime. On the plane, it’s night, but if you lift the window blinds slightly, you see fierce, shocking sunlight piling up against the glass, trying to burst the little bubble of time created by inter-continental flight. It finds you in the end.
I enjoy taking off. I like the burning roar of the engines, feeling the hand of acceleration pushing you firmly in the chest, pinning you to your seat. I like the sudden, gentle lurch as the wheels leave the ground, when you are falling and being lifted at the same time.
But it’s all disconnection, and I’m glad to be back with familiarity, slowly synchronising my senses again and re-setting my clock. I seem to be more or less all here.