Today I awoke with a jerk
Though free time can be quite a perk
Away I did roam
And now I’m back home
Tomorrow I start back to work.
Synopsis: I’m a family practitioner from Sioux City, Iowa. During my year-long sabbatical, while I danced back from the brink of burnout and my non-compete clause expired, I traveled, had adventures, and wrote. Tomorrow I start regular work again at the Sioux City Community Health Center.
When we left Sioux City for New Zealand we hadn’t cleared things up from our stay in Alaska. In the process of packing, editing, and repacking, I left disordered mounds of clothes, crammed drawers, and messy floors.
I forgot about them while we were gone. We found the house orderly when we returned, but I keep coming across things that need revising, drawers that need setting in order, and things that need to get divested. My long underwear alone I found in three different drawers and on two different horizontal surfaces.
I’ve been whittling away at my mail since we got back; I try to get rid of at least two magazines a day but the pile of unread journals remains daunting.
Jet lag has improved, and I slept through the night last night. I still get sleepy most afternoons and the occasional morning but nap duration has returned to my previous 18 minute specials.
The fact that I start back to work tomorrow excites me at the same time it feels like I’ll be, well, working. After all, from May 21, 2010 to June 20, 2011 it felt like vacation even when I spent sixty-three hours a week on the job.
Sleeping in our own bed ranks as a euphoric experience, and planting my garden marks a return to reveling in the sequence of seasons. Abruptly changing from long, cool New Zealand nights to the long, hot humid Iowa days has jarred our systems. It reminds why I spent last summer in Alaska.
I have returned refreshed and optimistic. Even though I’ll go back to a job tomorrow I have set things up so I’ll have enough time to write, garden, exercise, play music, hunt, read recreationally, and breathe.
Contrasts strike me every hour of every day. I drive on the right down broad lanes with quiet pavement. Home smells like home, gas and food come cheap, Iowans weigh a lot more than Kiwis, haze hangs in the air. When we play Scrabble we have dictionaries ready to hand. We don’t struggle to understand the Kiwi accent. We haven’t seen a single sheep since we arrived, and corn fields dominate the landscape.
Underlying the upbeat mood of our homecoming runs the town’s worry about flood from the Missouri River. The Dakota Dunes community, displaced from upscale homes between the Missouri and Big Sioux Rivers, has moved into Sioux City and snapped up real estate and rentals. The water, high when we arrived, has continued to rise. Interstate off ramps have morphed into boat ramps.
We have all considered worse case scenarios, where abrupt snow melt and heavy rains trigger domino-like dam failures all the way down the Missouri and the Fort Calhoun nuclear plant, sixty miles south, goes critical. Yet the town keeps an optimistic mood while we fill sandbags and take the weather seriously.