Since I was in Greece for nearly three months, the last 10 days back in Lake Charles have presented me with the usual adjustment issues. I’m getting there, but still have some challenges.
For the first few days, I found myself awakening (without any clock) between 3 and 4 a.m. Wide awake, not sleepy. Of course my still-on-Greek-time body thought it was 8 hours ahead, and that I’d slept until 11 a.m. and noon. By 5 p.m., I was whipped and ready for bed, sound asleep by 6 p.m. This was awkward when I wanted to meet friends for dinner, or watch television, but I just let my body dictate what it needed.
So from the day I landed (Thursday) until the following Wednesday, I woke up early and went to sleep early. Each day, though, I found that I woke up just a bit later and went to bed just a little later. By the Thursday after returning, I was sleeping until 6. That was fine. I had no real demands.
Now, ten days after my return, I’m waking up at a more reasonable hour (between 7 and 8 a.m.) and staying up as I’m used to doing. Right now, it’s almost 11 p.m., and I’m beginning to yawn.
Sleep patterns are only the most obvious and immediate adjustment, though. Others quickly emerged.
For three months, I’ve gotten around by walking and taking trolleys, buses, and taxis. Until last Friday, I hadn’t driven at all. Within 24 hours of my return, it was a different story: once more if I wanted to do anything, I had to drive. Driving is something I’ve always loved, so that really isn’t too big an adjustment.
Shopping has also been something that I have to do differently. In Athens, I walked to the markets, limited to buying what I could carry home to the apartment. My refrigerator there is American-style, not a small apartment-sized unit, but there I shop frequently. Here I have a car and can manage to shop less often. I found myself buying for a day or two, though, and only today did I actually buy enough for several days.
Usually, I’m gone until mid-August, but this year I went to Greece early (I landed in Athens on April 20) and thus returned in mid-July (July 18). I returned to Louisiana in full summer, with high humidity. My air conditioner here is always on, while I ran the apartment AC only when I needed it; it wasn’t yet hot enough there to keep it on for hours (unless I was cooking and having guests). I get outside here, walk to the car, get in, and realize that my sunglasses have fogged with temperature changes and have to take them off and wipe the lenses so that I can see.
In the 10 days I’ve been home, it’s rained almost every day — not necessarily for long, but enough to leave the sidewalks, lawns, and streets damp for a while. Only on Saturday, while I was driving back from Baton Rouge, did I actually find myself in a full-on thunderstorm, complete with sheeting rain and lightening. I slowed down and tried to guide by the taillights of the 18-wheeler in front of me. Luckily, it cleared pretty quickly. High temperatures, high humidity, possible thermal showers, thunderstorms, and light rain. Normal summer in Southwest Louisiana.
Oh, and it’s hurricane season, of course. I keep my eye on the Hurricane Tracker app every day now. And remind myself that it’s time to begin gathering the usual hurricane supplies.
For the first time in months, I’ve got to deal with the pets. Dogs need attention. Cats do too. Cat litter. Dog papers. Water. Food.
Once more I have a house to keep up, not a small apartment. I need to mop floors. Mondays are the days I must roll the garbage can out to the curb for pickup (and I have to get up early enough tomorrow to have it out there by 7:30 a.m.). I think this week will see me re-organizing my office, first of all, and getting ready for the writing projects and some jewelry work. The office looks nice, and I want to keep it that way, but it definitely needs some work before it’s just right.
My calendar has also begun to fill with appointments and meetings – even in retirement. In the coming week, I need to schedule an appointment for car maintenance, another for a three-week program I’m going to direct at a local library, and yet a third for a writing project I;m planning. I realize that I have no idea where my checkbooks are, and I will have to find them. I still need to finish sorting through the mail that piled up while I was gone.
In a few days it will be August. I haven’t been in the U.S. at this time in a while, and I’m remembering daily what my summers usually are like. Hot, steamy, and sticky. I find myself wearing shorts a lot, even to run errands.
At least I don’t have to worry about getting ready to begin teaching in a couple of weeks. I now am planning writing projects and road trips to the beach and to Egan.
Re-entry into my Louisiana life isn’t too bad. The issues are familiar from almost 13 years of summers away.
Time to get some sleep. Garbage day is tomorrow. Pets are ready for some cuddle time. And the laptop battery needs recharging. Guess my battery does too.
Ah well. I am still retired. That’s the continuing adjustment I face now.