In early 2013, my husband and I planned our first trip to Europe together. I’d skipped around The Continent before, but my husband hadn’t, so we aimed for a place that was new to both of us, where we wouldn’t have much trouble easing in culturally. London seemed like the best of all possible worlds. I’d only ever flown through London, never visited. And since the UK was full of English speakers, we wouldn’t have any trouble making our way.
I booked our travel and lodging about 6 months ahead of the trip. For the rest of those 6 months, the anticipation all but killed me. I read up on English culture and etiquette. I studied all the things we could see and do, and how to do them best. I spent hours daydreaming about the trip from my drab little cubicle at work, and as it got down to the wire, I was going out of my mind with excitement. I even started tracking the weather in every city we’d fly through, just to make sure everything would go well.
So we flew to London for a week, and had an insanely magical time there. I left feeling like we were parting ways too soon, that there was still so much left to see and explore. We both agreed it’d be great to go back one day. A couple years later, in 2015, we arranged for that return trip. It was my reward for completing Blood’s Force.
This time around, for some reason, I didn’t spend as much time in the run-up planning and daydreaming. Instead, the trip kept sneaking up on me. “Oh yeah, we’re going overseas in a few weeks!” I didn’t obsess over what we’d see and do; it was something we could figure out once we were there. I didn’t check the weather in Newark (the city where we caught our international flight) once.
We got back from London a week ago. It was a fun time, to be sure … but the thrill was gone. I even felt that way while in London, and felt guilty about it. Why isn’t this mind-blowingly fun?
There are some quick, obvious answers. This was no longer our first time there. Also, London on Saturday in December is like Black Friday everywhere, and if there’s one thing I don’t tolerate well for long, it’s gigantic crowds.
But there’s actually something more profound to it. At the time of our first trip, my husband and I were working full-time jobs we didn’t care for. London wasn’t just vacation, it was an escape. It was an eye-opening, holy-shit, look-at-how-much-better-life-can-be experience that was subconsciously telling us, You’re leading the wrong lives right now.
Sure enough, we took that trip in September 2013 … and within 2 or 3 months, we were plotting our escape to self-employment. May 2014 is when we actually left our jobs to go off on our own. So maybe our first London trip was the kick in the ass we sorely needed.
The self-employment arrangement has been much better for us in every way possible. Chores and other obligations aside, we spend each day doing what we want to be doing. There’s no longer the unnecessary stress of commutes, difficult coworkers, nonsensical corporate culture, and the like. Not once have either of us ever thought, Man, I miss the old office.
We’re leading the right lives now. There’s no longer that burning need for escape. So when we go on vacation, it’s no longer earth-shattering. It’s just a nice break away from the usual routine. And I’m OK with that.
Hey!! What about the Paperback Giveaway? Oh yeah, I don’t wanna forget that. I’m running another Blood’s Force paperback giveaway via Goodreads. Want a chance to win your very own physical copy? Use the fancy widget below to enter! :)