In reality, I’m just a short week away from a seven-night Caribbean cruise with some girl friends. In my world, I’m three days of shoveling 14 tons of landscape rock in our backyard, one business trip to New Jersey, and two nights of packing procrastination away from a seven-night Caribbean cruise with some girl friends. I’m certainly not feeling sorry for myself, but the vacation roller coaster has already begun.
Vacationing is my second greatest talent (killing plants is my first). My fabulous employer allows me a little over five weeks a year; and my success, sanity and survival hinges entirely on milking every moment. And while I know the moment I step onto the curb at the airport the weight of everyday responsibility will fall away, I still can’t help getting sucked in to that loop-de-loop of pre-vacation crazy.
Right now, I’m on loop 2 of what I call the vacation roller coaster:
Scheduling High: Your vacation is BOOKED!!! Your be-jealous-of-me posts have been strewn across your various social profiles and you’re already contemplating your first umbrella-drink order.
Week Before Inner Monologue Loop-de-loop: “I’m going on vacation! I need to pack. Nah, I have six nights left. Except Tuesday and Wednesday. And I’m busy Thursday. It can wait. I’m going on vacation! Who is going to take this meeting while I’m out? Maybe I should reschedule. No they can survive without me. Should I pack tonight? I need to get a pedicure. I’m going on vacation!”
Last Day of Work Plunge: Today is the day everyone decides you’re important. The “one last thing before you leave” emails continue until after you actually leave. You contemplate the implications of never returning.
Out of Office Alert High: Click and relief! The sucker who agreed to cover for you is on the hook now.
One Quick Email Check Spiral: In a moment of airport/road trip/”family fun” boredom you decide to “just peek” at your inbox. You experience a quick burst of stress for all the things you’ll face upon your return followed by a twinge of guilt for the person filling your shoes followed by a deeper twinge of not caring in the least. You test your out of office alert. Power down.
Vacation Coast: You’re finally in the zone. Blue skies, blue waters and blue drinks as far as the eye can see. Your only care in the world is wondering what species of towel animal will be waiting on your bed after turn down service. You briefly consider how the movers would get your things here.
Mid-Vacation Hump: The days you’ve been here outnumber the days you have left and you can’t help but discuss this with your fellow travelers at every turn. “Just four soups of the day left to try!” “I can’t believe we only have three more nights of karaoke on the Lido deck!”
Last Day of Vacation High: You feel refreshed, you feel lucky and you feel ready to go back and take on the world with a new outlook on life. Mid-life crisis postponed.
Return to Work Loop-de-loop and Dive Bomb: The initial panic of 427 unread emails slowly wanes as you realize your back up actually had your back, then resurges with a vengeance when you begin to wonder if you are completely useless and replaceable. You use the free time to book another vacation.
Coming back from vacation is bittersweet. It’s never a pleasure to peel yourself from your beach chair, ski lift, or even couch, but rejoining the real world with a fresh perspective provides a little post-vacation buzz that makes your first few days back easier. At least until you get your next trip on the books.
Do you experience the vacation roller coaster?