It’s 7:30am here in California. I don’t know how long I’ve been awake but it seemed as if the morning would never break. It is 3:30pm back home, so my body was obviously wondering what it was doing still in bed. I’m surprised I haven’t felt hungry since it’s been way more than 12 hours since I had a meal. My chest hurts and my heart beat feels uncomfortably strong in my chest and abdomen. My facial skin is irritated and itchy. I’m wondering how I’ll fare as the day goes on, and how long it’ll be before I can sleep through the night.
I felt pretty confident up until the plane took off from London, at which point I started to go into a panic. There really wasn’t much room around the seat, and the thought of 11 hours like that was terrifying. Plus I was worried I had forgotten something important, or for some reason would be refused entry and turned back when we got there. I think it’s just because I’ve never done this before. The reality of it is, funnily enough, it’s just like going a short distance, only longer. The time went by pretty fast, with going over my talk, watching Slumdog Millionaire and various TV shows on the in-flight entertainment, and doing some Arabic revision.
I saw mountains poking their noses up out of blankets of cloud, I saw glaciers, I saw icebergs that looked like two-dimensional boulders, and I think I may have seen the Canadian ice roads (of Ice Road Truckers fame) – or what’s left of them at this time of year. And circling over California, I saw big houses nestled in greenery, their turquoise swimming pools staring up at the sky like unblinking eyes.
It didn’t seem hard to believe that it was only late afternoon by the time we arrived. Maybe because of the sunlight, which had been constant, giving the impression of time standing still. Stepping out of the airport, the warmth in the sunlight was beautifully welcoming.
I missed my bus and waited more than an hour for the next one. During this time, the drivers of the other buses that showed up would talk to me, ask where I was going. They would voluntarily tell me what the bus I was waiting for looked like. One of them welcomed me to California. Another lent me his cell phone to call the bus company and check it was coming. This was a total culture shock, considering how grumpy bus drivers are in Scotland. I was very impressed.
Eventually the minibus came and I was off on the 2-hour journey to the town I’m staying in. Lush trees and modern buildings whizzed past against a backdrop of mountains in the setting sun. I love it here already.
I had a shower and got to bed by 10pm, which of course should have felt like 6am, but I wasn’t that tired. I got to sleep OK but woke at God knows what time; it’s probably good that I don’t know exactly how little sleep I’ve had.
And now it’s nearly 8am, so I think I’ll go and investigate breakfast options. The conference doesn’t start until tomorrow so I have today to look around town. I will try really hard to enjoy it and not worry about the state my body’s in.