"Excuse me miss, your seat must be placed in an upright position while landing," an irritated voice utters in the distance.
I am sleeping on a cloud, cloud number nine, sleep.. nine.. calm.. sleep..
"Excuse me? Miss! Your seat must be completely upright. It is a safety precaution!" the voice says again, growing more and more impatient.
Cotton cloud.. how nice it is, to sleep on a cotton cloud.. finally, sleep..
Next thing I know, an arm reaches over me and my seat back is viciously snapped upward. (Nighttime, cloud, nighttime all around.. time stops.. sleep.. peaceful- I shake. What the..?) Once my consciousness is regained, I let out a groan followed by a string of newly-learned French curses. Right. Landing time.
Trying to ignore my incredibly bad nap-timing, I yawn and roll my eyes around to get my contacts in the right position. I push my seat back to an angle just over ninety degrees (to spite the anal retentive who woke me up) and lifted the window's plastic cover. With unexpected and bothersome sun rays burning directly into my face, I look down to Earth to see if there is any visible land yet. Nothing reassuring.
Whatever, I think, already back into my typical Americanized bad mood. I've missed those bad moods. The sun never sets on Recycle-Free New Jersey.
Slowly but surely, the plane makes its final descent onto one of Newark Airport's many international runways.
It gradually begins to hit me that I am already back in the states. It feels like years have passed since my initial arrival in Nice, France four months ago. Surely this newly acquired European education would be trés beneficial to my degree-in-progress for French Literature, but my incredibly low energy rate would not.
Sleep had not come easy to me in Nice. Maybe it was the whole concept of being away from home- so far away, in fact, that my body was working on an entirely different clock. It seemed almost unreal to me- while my friends and family were sound asleep in Jersey, I was searching narrow streets for a bistro that would be willing to serve me some semi-American food. Many of my evenings would turn into All-Nighters; not because of twenty page papers due the next day, but simply because of traces of homesickness.
Don't get me wrong, it's not like I wanted to be home: I absolutely adored France and the culture which engulfed me. It was just a psychological thing, I suppose. I'd look at my room's kerosene lamp (the anachronism in itself creeped me out) and I'd find it thought-provoking how my mother and father were probably on their way to work, lightbulbs off for the day. The essence of time messed with my mind. Four months, one hundred twenty days, two thousand eighty hours- the numbers just screwed with my head. Different place, different people, different conceptions of existence; it bothered me, and still does Time- where the hell does it go?
I can't think about it any longer. I've never been partial to time.
Physically and mentally fatigued, I collect my bags and make my way across the gate, through immigration, customs, baggage claim. I shuffle outside, mindlessly drifting a little before gaining control of myself. Take the bus to the parking lot, genius.
While waiting at the bus stop with my baggage at my feet, I breathe in. Polluted air, you've been missed; I think to myself as I subconsciously check my watch for the time. The face reads four o'clock ante meridiem-