On the morning of Thursday, March 5, Hell Year, I was getting ready to check out of the Westin in Waltham, Massachusetts, my home away from home for most of the previous year. Without thinking too much about it, I threw the little vial of lavender oil the hotel leaves on the nightstand into my shaving kit. The card that comes with it claims that rubbing a bit on your temples or wrists leads to a better night’s sleep. Given my historic sleeping problems, it seemed like an easy thing to try. And I feel like maybe it worked. I slept decently in that hotel, though of course it could have been a placebo effect. God knows it wasn’t because of the healthful, low-stress fitness lifestyle I was living on the road. You can get your own, if you’re curious. A tenth of an ounce for $14.96, marked down. I suppose they have a large stockpile of them, now.
That might seem like a steep price, getting up into the blood plasma or printer ink range on a per-ounce basis. When it finally ran out this weekend, I did a little math and found that it lasted 170 days. So maybe that’s not such a bad deal after all. You couldn’t get six months’ worth of nightly CBD doses for fifteen bucks, that’s for damn sure.
Time is moving in funny ways for all of us during this era. We all have our stories from Before, or how long it’s been since we did Thing X—a number that can be shockingly long or short, depending on the Thing and the audience. What struck me as I tossed the empty vial is how long it took me to adapt to the road warrior life, and then even more mysteriously, how long it took me to adapt back to life in one place. If I hadn’t really absorbed that Monday-Thursday travel grind, why did it take me so long to get it out of my system on the other side?
What isn’t mysterious is why I find myself missing it now. Until a round of golf in northwest Indiana a couple of weeks ago, I hadn’t even left the county since it all happened. I never thought of myself as much of a wanderluster. I’ve lived all of my 53.8 years within 25 miles of where I was born, and I’m mostly fine with that. I suppose being denied the option of leaving is what’s different now. Nobody likes feeling stuck. My company said I probably won’t be getting on a plane before the end of the year, and my customer thinks even that is optimistic for a return to their buildings. And when they do go back to the office, they certainly aren’t going to want consultants flying in from strange places with our cooties. We bring enough of that energy during normal times.
So here I stand, in several senses. I’m not ungrateful or unhappy, though I am restless. In the hours when I should be sleeping but am not, I find myself thinking about when and where and how to escape for a little while. It’s not happening soon. Maybe I should pony up that $15 after all.