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Top off your tea kettle; procure some melatonin – it’s time to talk jet lag. Cast upon us by an ancient king of killjoys, jet lag thrives in a space of misery and mystery, beguiling even the most seasoned of globetrotters. While we’ve yet to develop a common cure (a blessed flannel blanket, perhaps?), we’ve skillfully dissected jet lag’s seven-part progression below. Ready your well-travelled eyes… and maybe a pillow or two.

As soon as you touch down, the sheer excitement of arrival lures you into a state of misguided confidence. Birds sing. Flowers bloom. The baby from 13B finishes up a lengthy tantrum. Perhaps I’ll take up hiking today, you tell yourself. Despite 10 hours wedged between armrests, I feel spectacular and spritely. Is spritely still a word? Who cares, I am a modern-day Magellan!

You’ve made your way to baggage claim and you’re now fluent in conversational yawn. Somewhere along the way, your eyelids have doubled in weight. Another yawn, a chill, a stretch. Perhaps it’s a drop in temperature? Something in the air? A reaction to the gossip mag you studied mid-flight? What a curious development. Perhaps I’ll take up medical research after my hike.

While your taxi driver waxes on about local eateries, you choreograph a new dance called The Nod Off. You prop yourself up and desperately beg the universe for just one functioning eyelid. Things deteriorate quickly. Give me a second wind and I promise to never Google for sport on company time again.

Practically crawling, you’ve finally reached your destination and now believe in love at first sight: two pillows, one duvet. You unpack and lovingly cradle a pair of pyjamas, but feel your sneakers judging you from across the room. A ray of sunlight creeps in through the curtains and illuminates a guidebook. I should be exploring… did Magellan take a nap upon reaching new land? The weight of paranoia presses down. Stop staring, all of you! Even you, ceiling fan! You seek shelter underneath the duvet. You let your eyes rest for just a minute… ok fine, maybe 20.

Somewhere, old friends settle in for the evening while you gently wake and ready yourself for breakfast. Wait, why is everything so dark? Why does the clock read 3am? WHO DROOLED ON THIS PILLOW? You kick the covers off and shake your fist at the moon. You are quick to make a list of global injustices and you include yourself in the top three. You swear you hear your sneakers let out a defeated sigh.

the stages of jet lag

After a rage-fuelled pity party – and a makeshift meal of minibar pretzels – you force yourself back into bed and watch the clock with wide eyes and a heavy heart. A single tear falls after an hour of what you’ve expertly diagnosed as insomnia. Somewhere, a faucet drips. Or maybe it’s just the idea of a faucet. You get lost in the rhythm and indulge in a toss and turn. Is this that hour I begged for in the taxi? Please disregard. I was younger and stupider then. 

Night journeys into day and you regain consciousness with the rest of the world. Children play. Clouds move. Guidebooks… guide. You poke your head out into the hallway and share a congenial nod with a spritely staffer. Yes, SPRITELY. It was all worth it! You remember what the driver said about the narrow alley and the artisanal pastries and you find a new horizon to pursue. What’s one day? Adventure awaits. And maybe a hike. Maybe.

Images by Anne Kit White
Eye mask design by Olivia von Hale
Shoot location at The Standard, High Line Hotel 

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