My self-care sabbatical is over. I’ve been back in the USA for 3 weeks, hopping from San Francisco to Chicago to New York City. I’m back in my apartment in Brooklyn, storage unit unpacked.
It’s weird. It’s a bit like I never left, but it also feels like everyone kept living their lives for the past year while I was gone and, upon coming back, things are so different. Even though I was keeping up with people while I was away, there is a sort of feeling like I missed out on all that happened in the past 10 months and have just been plopped back into life. My super was surprised to see me when he spotted me carrying luggage up the stairs on my apartment building. “You’re back?!?” he asked. I’m sure he had assumed I was gone for good.
I have had some weird cultural adjustments to make too. For one thing, I forget about tipping. After nearly a year of not really doing it, it feels weird (and expensive) to tip all the time! Also, it took me about a week to be back in the habit of flushing my toilet paper and not throwing it into the bin. I had to keep reminding myself in the bathroom that it was OK to flush!
And see where I used the word “bin” to refer to a trashcan? Hanging out with British people in Thailand for so long has given me an odd, new vocabulary of British-isms.
I feel my self moving through New York more slowly, maybe more mindfully. Perhaps it’s because I don’t have a job and am a bit on my own schedule, but I don’t feel myself rushing around. Feeling anxious, hurried. It’s been hot and sunny in Brooklyn all week, reminding me of what I love (and also dislike – ahem, too hot on the subway platform) about this city. I’ve also caught myself smiling more at strangers, chatting up servers or cashiers in a way I hadn’t really done often before my trip. I’d like to think it’s because I am happier than I was a year ago when I started this sabbatical. In fact, I’m confident that is why. It is fantastic.
I spent the last few weeks of my trip on my own, much of it in Bali. I moved slowly there, the final days in Ubud spent doing morning yoga, reading, writing, and eating vegan food. During that time, I felt relaxed and renewed and ready to return. And, more than anything, I wanted to return with these feelings. I was most afraid of coming back to New York and suddenly finding myself stressed out again. The more I can carry these peaceful feelings with me on my return, the better.
Though it’s sad that my travel time has come to an end, I was ready to be done with my trip and, after a few weeks of staying with friends and family in the US, I was totally ready to be back in my own space. I underestimated how much I would appreciate being back in my home again. Having my own place. I feel settled back in, but it also feels a bit like a fresh start. A refresh, if you will. I am excited to see where the next few months take me after the past year’s incredible experience. I have this abundance of energy and enthusiasm being back – looking forward to seeing where this takes me!