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Seven seconds.

It took at least seven seconds before I realized what I was standing on.


It almost felt like a tree root. I was wobbling and trying to regain my balance. And after seven seconds, I teetered and fell back …

Onto the woman whose foot I was standing on.

I apologized profusely, and she glared back. “It’s fine,” she mumbled from her seat. I shuffled away, embarrassed, while my sister came to my defense. “I mean, who lets someone stand on their foot that long anyway? She should have said something!”

True, but really, who doesn’t notice they’re standing on someone?

I’ll tell you: A woman who has been up for more than 48 hours and was fighting an intense case of jet lag.

Welcome back to America.

Every year, I make the long trip back home. It takes a few (very long) flights, but I always arrive excited if extremely exhausted. This time, I landed in Boston, rather than in my parents’ town. And thanks to time zones, I landed only an hour after I took off 14 hours prior. My sister was ecstatic and eager to set out on our two-day New England tour. I smiled and shoved the need for sleep aside. “I can do this,” I repeated to myself.

Out to the city streets we went.

It was beautiful — the history blended seamlessly with modern storefronts. While I’m not one to wax lyrical about the U.S. or its historical roots, there’s always something interesting to learn about the past. Especially the way my sister and I did it — the macabre of crypt tours and haunted homes was a great twist.

But with each hour, I felt another second slower. It took me a while to realize what I was looking at and even longer to respond to my sister as we wandered. By the time we made it to our ghost tour that evening, it was all I could do to press on.

Riding in the tour bus, my sister kept nudging me. Our tour guide was prone to scaring the bejeezus out of anyone not paying attention. Surely, my imminent snores would inspire his public taunting.

As I shuffled away from the aforementioned woman and her now-injured foot, I knew it was time for bed.

But do you know what?

The next morning, I woke up feeling wonderful.

In fact, I slept the entire night without a problem. The day felt normal, even on our long drives and colorful coastal walks. We belatedly celebrated our birthdays with delicious ciders and feasted on sandwiches too good to be allowed.

I’d done it — I’d kicked jet lag’s ass.

As it turned out, the key was simple: Push your own limits.

Immediate relaxation upon arrival is wonderful, but it won’t get you on the right track. Sometimes you need to go big. It’ll make going home all the more incredible.

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