Holidays and learning to love coming home
The worst thing about holidays is that they have to end.
I love being away until that part on your final day when you have to admit that you’re not on holiday any more, you’re just a long way from home.
I find it difficult when my welcome in the country or city I’ve chosen for a break suddenly feels like it’s running out. When you’re no longer a resident of your hotel or apartment, you’re dragging your belongings behind you on wheels, and somebody only has to whisper the word ‘passport’ for you to descend into a blind panic, scrabbling around in your bag for a desperate feel of your documents which are, of course, exactly where they were the last fifty times you checked.
We just got back from Budapest. Leon booked us a city break there for my birthday, which is definitely up there with the nicest things anyone has ever done for me. It was 37 degrees on Tuesday and 32 on Wednesday and every part of me felt like it had melted. I recommend only travelling to countries of this temperature with someone who loves you enough to overlook comments such as ‘Even my shoulders are sweating!’ which are really not in keeping with the romantic getaway vibe.
I love these precious times of the year when we get to go away and pretend that we’re the only two people in the world. When our only concern is where we’re going to go for our next Aperol Spritz or, in Hungary’s case, as many glasses of water as it takes to keep us upright. This isn’t real life by any means, it’s an escape from it, and we all need that from time to time.
When the time came for us to come back, I felt the usual combination of pre-flight angst (Could we accidentally go to the wrong airport? Will there be a big queue at the gate? What if somebody sighs when I ask them to move out of my way on the plane so that I can go to the toilet? Do they not realise that will just make me need to go again really really soon?) and post-holiday blues. Why can’t we stay forever, I wondered, as a woman wheeled a trolley filled with miniature shampoos, conditioners, and shower caps by our hotel room. This place has everything we need.
But rather than really feeling down about our trip being over – which would surely be the ultimate definition of a first world problem anyway – I decided to focus on the good parts of what we were coming back to. If we can’t be here, I thought, I want to be in London.
I said to a friend recently that the relief I feel every time I get back to London tells me for sure that this is where I’m supposed to live. She looked at me with surprise because most people feel the precise opposite way. They will say that the relief they feel when they get the hell out of London tells them that they should live LITERALLY ANYWHERE ELSE LONDON IS INSANE.
We are all entitled to our opinions. But for me this is the place, certainly for now anyway. I don’t mean Leicester Square or Oxford Street you understand, I’m not mad – I mean London in the broader sense. Its billions of opportunities. Its tube system that I like watching documentaries about. The little corner of this city that I call home.
Home is a hard status to achieve. For years after leaving my mum’s house, which was my home for 18 years, I didn’t give anywhere I lived that title. They were just a variety of buildings to which I hauled my complete Beatles CD collection and extensive range of shoes, and in which I slept but did not truly rest.
But with age and relationships and a little bit of cash to make places your own, home comes. I know that my flat is my home now because I fantasise about being in its bath when I’m out at social events. I know I belong in this house because I dedicate specific hours of the weekend to doing nothing but hang out in it. It’s earned the precious title of home because it’s the base to which my husband and I return each day to chat, to eat snacks, and to recover from having to interact with other human beings.
So yes, it is a shame to have to leave a hot, sunny holiday and to return to daily life. But what’s most important is that you like the life you’re returning to. Because if you don’t, there’s nothing like having to get on a plane and fly back into reality to make you realise it. And in that case, it’s time to make a change, my friend. Listen to your post-holiday head, that guy speaks the truth.
But if you do like it, don’t take that for granted. OK, nobody’s going to deliver free tiny bottles of body lotion to your bedroom tomorrow morning, but otherwise you’ve got it pretty good.