The point which has always seemed so far away looms large: I fly back to London this week. When I get back in the UK, I’ll have been away for 17 weeks. I spent a week in Florida, largely by myself for the first time in a long time. I enjoyed the generous hospitality of long-time family friends, and naturally slid into contemplative mode whilst entertaining myself on the beach (it’s a tough life). What I think is one of the main attractions of living this lifestyle repeatedly – there are people at camp who return time and again, and at various points I wondered what motivated them – is the fact that, although there is a long stretch of hard work and precious little time off, at the end of it is the month of freedom which you’ve earned.
No role I’ve previously undertaken would allow a month off without a serious catch (the one here is that you’re not earning), and that even those employers who do allow an extended break would have trouble finding time in the calendar for it to fit in. A month off allows the extensive travel which I’ve undertaken – two weeks of paid holiday is great, but there are usually two days of those weeks dedicated to getting to and from the destination, and feeling that you have to cram a lot into that time.
Whether I’ll return to camp next summer remains to be seen, but it’s something I’m considering. I made some great friends – some of whom I know I’ll see sooner rather than later. I learned a lot about myself, what I’m capable of and what still needs work, as well as how to adapt the way I work to the specific environment I found myself in. I’ve been to some places I didn’t think I’d visit – either at all or on this trip – and I’m very glad I made the effort.
I’m excited to get home and see my family and friends who I haven’t seen for several months – apparently even the cashier my parents regularly use at the supermarket has been asking after me. I’m also equal parts nervous and optimistic about what the future holds when I return – it’s currently a blank canvas, and I have ideas about what I do and don’t want (though these have a tendency to be quite fluid…), so it’ll be interesting to see which ones I can see through.