Photo: Anne Lawrence, international flight home, 2016

There were doodle bugs under the paving stone in the garden on the side of the house. We were investigating. Carefully, I pried rocks and we peeked, my five-year old daughter peering eagerly. I was so excited to be home this early in the afternoon — plenty of outdoor time to play together. I stood up… and that’s the last I remember. I crumpled down, hitting my head on the stone. I awoke to her screaming at me.

Later, at the ER we all sat together, trying to tell jokes and take silly photos. We had brought headphones for my daughter in case the ER was too scary. There wasn’t anywhere else for her to go, but with us. It wasn’t too bad, only a few hours. Finally, they interviewed me for more details. Where had I been recently?

New York City, New York for the toy fair and digital kids conference for work. Only they cancelled our flight back at the last moment, so I had slept on the marble floor in a hall resting my head on my suitcase, along with the rest of the passengers stuck at the airport terminal overnight. I’d only been there a few days and I’d had the worst food poisoning the first day. There was a record cold that week in February and the temperature was far below what I used to in Texas. Luckily, I’d layered up plenty against the snow and sub-freezing temperatures.

Oh, but I was only in Texas long enough to swap out the clothes in my suitcase, you see, I’d just flown back from two weeks in Hyderabad, India, with a layover in Dubai both ways. If you’re going to go all the way to India, you definitely should see the Taj Mahal, so I’d taken a flight up north to New Delhi and back. I didn’t see too many sights in Hyderabad since I was working 12 hours a day. I barely had enough time to eat, but don’t worry I still got my exercise in walking to and from the hotel and up the stairs to my fifth floor room. I thought the stairs were getting to me because I was always so light headed by the time I reached my room, but then I was abruptly moved to a lower floor and it turns out my floor was under construction the whole time. I don’t recall having any adverse reactions to all of the medicines required for travel or the anti-malarials and the heat didn’t really bother me much — I am from Texas. Mostly, I was just tired, but that may have been from the fumes too.

I know I was home sick while in India. That was why I was so excited to be in the garden looking for our little bug friends. After making it so far around the world and back, I fell down in my own yard hitting my head on a stone. At least I was home.

Writer, researcher, observer