The hardest part of returning from vacation?
Is it the avalanche of laundry that escapes from your suitcase?
The nasty looks of your cat, who has been mad at you for too long?
Do you realize that you have exceeded your “vacation budget” by about three times?
No. I mean yes. All the foregoing. But for me, the hardest part is just knowing what time it is.
Just got back from visiting my daughter in California. Specifically, in San Francisco, where she has a good job and a cute apartment in town and has become a public transport pro, which is what you need to be in a city where 98% of your income goes to housing.
But I digress. Our trip was something of a family reunion, with a revolving door of relatives coming in and out of different time zones on different days.
I haven’t flown anywhere in three years. I haven’t been west of Chicago in over three decades. I’m the kind of person who, weeks after Daylight Savings Time changes, wanders around aimlessly saying, “What time is it in real time?”
In other words, I am very easily confused by numbers.
“So, does this mean Pacific time?” I asked my daughter while looking at the digital plane ticket on my phone last week.
“What else would that mean?” »
“I don’t know. Maybe it somehow syncs with my phone? My laptop? Siri knows I’m on Eastern time and doesn’t want to confuse me?”
For those kinds of comments, I get sighs and eye rolls.
But seriously, as the kids say (or said 10 years ago – I can’t follow), the struggle is real.
On the way to California, my brain fought reality. How could I leave Pittsburgh at 6 a.m. and arrive in San Francisco at 8:23 a.m.? (I know, I know, there’s a three-hour time difference.) But where does that time go? It never adds up in my mind.
And how does coming home red-eyed take all night? (And yes, I have it on paper. A five-hour flight plus a three-hour jet lag equals all night. But try telling that to my nervous system.)
Why, even after a good night’s sleep, do I still feel like a puzzled zombie?
We have the same issues with our scheduled family phone calls.
“Can I call you guys after dinner?” my daughter will say, which for me means after dinner. Our dinner. Not 10 p.m., when I’m in a state of almost comatose drowsiness.
Our son lives in Chicago, yet another time zone, which adds to our confusion when we all zoom in.
Or should I say, my confusion. No one else seems particularly bothered trying to figure out “real time” or “our time” or “your time”.
Sometimes I feel like the cat is the only one who understands me. And right now, I’ve been gone for a week, so he’s not talking to me.
Charlotte is a columnist for The Times. You can reach her at [email protected]