As is inevitable, here we are: today marks the last of my 10-day long holiday.
It's been a much needed break from work. That place has become so scarily depressing (or depressingly scary, I'm not sure) that there's more stress than ever before on me. To have the opportunity to dump it for a while, meaning I didn't long into emails, or take calls, or whatever... why it was bliss.
London is great and all - but there's something refreshing about heading back to Manchester, and just bathing in its culture. Yes, readjusting to the accent en masse is a culture shock at first, but then when things have settled and I have a real opportunity to take in my home city... it's a beautiful place, with some colourful people. Best of all is the sense of community that I feel there, that is entirely missing from my life in the capital.
There's something in the way people interact, and become a part of one another's lives. I don't get anything like that back home. Too often London is 'about' rushing, or avoiding, or ruling. It's afraid to be a nicer place.
Of course, my family are back in Manchester - so that's a terrific bonus. I enjoyed my time this holiday playing with my nephews Tyler and Jamie, who just carrying on getting bigger, and more excited every time I see them. They're at that lovely stage now where they're running around, and are old enough to play - and are amused by even the lamest attempts at playing hide and seek with them. They laugh a lot, and it really is contagious. I think that a good 75% of all the laughing that I've done over the last two years has been done over these 10 days, in their company.
(The rest of my family are doing well, and we've entered a comfortable groove now. That stability is important to me. I don't know why, but it makes me feel adult, and as if I have a real place in the world - which is weird, because actually, I kinda don't...)
On the negative side, I've spoken about my Nan already, so there's no need to re-tread old ground there. Knowing she's unwell does make the trip back home to London harder, but not impossible.
Ah, the trip home...
It's true that most holidays end in a sense of melancholy for me, and none more so than this one. I think it has a little to do with the sheer length of the break; a full 10 days away, all spent in Manchester. On top of that, I leave behind family who I'm more connected to than ever before, and friends who I reunited with on this break, in a way I haven't seen them since 2009 or 2010 (Dan/Emma/James/Becca). Then there's a nagging sense that what lies in London for me upon my return isn't great... It's all work, and responsibility, and facing the loneliness at home.
Here's the thing then... when I finally did get home, do you know what? I wasn't sad at all. I was happy to crawl back into my bed; happy to be surrounded by all my own things again. I'm comforted by the City, and know that I've missed London. Strange that.
It's creeping up to midnight, and I'm back at work from 9am tomorrow, so I best be off to bed.
There we are then - holiday's definitely over.
Back to work!