This is what long vacations do to me
Updated: Apr 14
Coming home from our four-week pleasure break was hard. REALLY hard.
First, there was the jetlag. It took me more than two weeks to get back to a normal sleeping routine. Yes, I've tried Melatonin. But still, I'd lie wide awake at 4 am listening to D. breathing next to me. The following day, I'd wake up at 2.15 pm, dazed and bewildered. I would also lie in bed contemplating life, ruminating about the future, and fretting over the utter meaninglessness of my existence.
Which brings me to my next dilemma -- existential angst. Leaving my usual routines makes me question EVERYTHING. In a good way. I want to throw things around and challenge my assumptions. But this was something else. My mind went wild at 200 mph… What’s the point of it all? Why am I here? Nothing really matters. The things I once wanted don’t matter anymore. What’s the point of it all? Nothing. Matters.
And then, decision anxiety. Where in the world do we want to live? Sweden, with its endlessly green forests, silent lakes, and amazing friends whom I’ve been missing dearly since 2016? Or Southern California, where there’s sunshine year-round, people speak English (Thank God!), and the avocados at Trader Joe’s are ripe and squishy every time?
Too many options can be a blessing and a curse...
Please, don’t even get me started on the ever-present should-I-ever-have-kids-or-not-question.
Who else thinks they've got to figure everything out and change their entire lives two weeks post-Burning Man? Move to another continent? Change careers? Become a mother? All of that? Or none? C’mon, God, I need to know! Right. Now. Already.
So I do what I usually do in such tricky situations. I rearrange furniture. Then I declutter my entire home in an attempt to release most of my useless possessions. I'm convinced that I’m soon going to move countries (on an airplane!) while having to fit *all* of my belongings into one suitcase. Again. Traveling always makes me appreciate how little I actually need.
Back in 2014, when I'd come home from a long trip to Hong Kong, I felt that same restlessness.
I then donated 90% of my stuff to charity because I intuited that I’d move to another continent. Exactly one year later, I stepped on a plane and left Stockholm for NYC. With one suitcase in hand. Sometimes you just know, am I right?
Maybe it’s just my way to procrastinate. Thinking about Minimalism so I don’t have to face the bigger questions in life. I tell myself it’s all about “getting-ready-for-autumn” and “releasing-everything-I-no-longer-need,” but in reality, it’s just a form of avoiding the real work. The sitting-down-to-write-and-make-money type of work.
Now top all of that up with painful loneliness. It’s weird -- I’m not usually the type who gets lonely. On the contrary -- I relish in my alone time. I consider myself an introvert. But this assumption was also challenged during Burning Man. A new friend told me straight up that I’m not an introvert, and I knew she was right. Not only is she brilliant at reading people, but life itself proved me wrong.
D. and I shared an RV with four wonderful gay girls, and our camp was always crowded with coke-snorting, booze-loving Hippies. They were all super fun, great people. I loved them all. I enjoyed having so many interesting women (and men) around me whom I could talk to, play with, or blend smoothies for. I didn’t feel overwhelmed at all. Okay, maybe once or twice, but that’s another blog post…
When we got back to Berlin, I suddenly felt alone and isolated.
Once D. went back to the office after a couple of days, I sat alone behind my keyboard. I missed all the people I connected so intimately with just days before. Not just during Burning Man, but in NYC, Lake Tahoe, and SF.
I missed nature too. Always nature. Berlin is filthy. Or at least our “hood,” Kreuzberg, is. Empty beer cans are tossed carelessly onto the sidewalk. Not an inch of grass is free from trash -- bottle caps and cigarette stubs are everywhere. There are graffitis with political hate speech on each dirty, rotting mattress that’s casually leaning against the walls, commanding you to “Fuck your Instagrammable life!”
After having vacated in the fancy, well-groomed Stockholm for five wonderful days, returning to our dirty and anarchist city felt sobering. I like tidy and pretty. I like to lie in the grass without feeling like I have to wash my clothes as soon as I get home. Am I so-bourgeois for feeling this way?
Maybe I am. But that’s fine with me. We are who we are, and the faster we can accept and embrace our idiosyncrasies, the happier we’ll be. Ha. I just made that up. But I do believe it. Why else practice all that self-love and self-acceptance? We can't judge and condemn ourselves forever, am I right?
You know what else I did in Stockholm?
I met up with the über-cool Charlotte Cronquist. She’s a real badass woman in her sixties who freely writes about sex, frequently travels to India, and confidently tells her grown-up daughter to not be so damn Swedish (read: boring and conformed) by trying to limit her radical self-expression. She’s also got a podcast called 100% Charlotte, where she chats with other interesting women about tantra, love, and intimate relationships.
Did I want to be on her podcast? Hell yeah! So I walked all the way from Friedhemsplan to her apartment outside of Alvik (for all you non-Stockholmers, that’s over an hour's walk) to meet up with her. Then we got cozy in her bedroom (which doubles as her creative studio) and had an intimate chat about self-love, spiritual aliveness, and God-knows-what. I never really listen back to interviews -- I’m not that conceited.
Once you’re done, hit reply and tell me what you think. What’s your cure for post-vacation blues? Do you even get that? And how do you deal with jetlag? Or big-decision anxiety? What’s your advice? I’d love to hear from you. Write to me. Really, I mean it.
PS: For all you skimmers -- I was interviewed on a podcast while in Stockholm this summer. Namely, the 100% Charlotte podcast, created by the über-cool and unapologetic Charlotte Cronquist. You can listen to our conversation here.
PPS: I do realize that this can sound like a lot of whining. But our trip was absolutely amazing! We had so much fun! Maybe that’s exactly why it was so freaking hard to come back. I miss it all so bad. The openness, the love, the intimacy...
PPPS: The cure for post-travel depression? More travel. Like more beer when you’re hungover. But better. That’s why we drove up to the sea last weekend. It helped a little. I feel more prolific already.
PPPPS: If you're too lazy to click a link, you can listen to the pod right here.
Click here to sign up.