The holiday was fun, but now it's time to return back to reality. What's happened to your tan? Where's the sun-lounger? Will somebody (anybody) make you a cocktail? Nothing will ever prepare you for these post-holiday blues, but here's what to expect...
1. The scent of home
You fall through the door, all semblance of holiday serenity eroded by travel horrors and there is an awful feeling of otherness. It’s the smell. It’s not your smell. It’s not a nice smell. It’s stale. It’s another house’s smell, surely. As if the house, like a newly indifferent lover, has reconfigured itself without you. You are strangers. A bath, a glass (bottle of) wine and a few open windows are all it takes for harmony to be restored. But the damp patch has definitely grown.
2. You’ve got mail
It’s like the beginning of The Philosopher’s Stone, when Harry Potter gets the letter from Hogwarts. A thousand owls have delivered letters to your house. And leaflets. And catalogues. You can barely open the door. Not one of them is from a lawyer informing you that an unknown relative has left you a fortune in their will. What is WRONG with people?
3. Instagram hell
It was one thing hating on those who went away early, while you still had a holiday to look forward to. Yes it was hard to look at the #nofilter sunrises and stupid breakfasts, but you could just about cope. Now that you are back, anyone still posting #dailycommute with a picture of a donkey on a Greek island, or #foreversummer captioning an ice-filled goblet of rosé against a backdrop of Canadian lake is dead to you. You *like* nothing. And no one.
4. Hope sinks
You stare at your suitcase full of crumple, and immediately crash into a vast kind of hopelessness. You are tired: uncertain, uneasy and drained of energy. It is possible that you have never been more sad exhausted in your life, or sadder. You immediately book another holiday, despite having no money, no time and no money.
5. Tan fade
Your tan has been stolen. Maybe it got sucked into the atmosphere when you flushed the plane loo. Incidentally you didn’t want to use the loo but you needed all the coffee to get you – and everyone else – packed and to the airport on time. Anyway, your tan is AWOL and, when you nip out to buy some milk, someone actually asks you when you are going away. You run home and empty a gallon of Isle of Paradise tanning drops into your moisturiser. You drink the rest.
6. The wrong knickers
You took all your favourite pants on holiday, so now there are only alien pants left in your drawer. After pulling out a pink lace thong and some extremely severe boy shorts that you thought made you appear like a waif but actually made you like a rugby player, you find yourself wearing frilly Agent Provocateur french-maid knickers on your first day back at work. It is surprisingly cheering.
7. The devil wears nada
Forget those sun-lounger fantasies of slipping into the next season seamlessly by just adding an opaque tights, a belt and a polo neck to everything. Voilàa! Fashion! Instead, your clothes look moth-eaten, mouldy and shamefully uncool. You don’t know who bought them but she is clearly not to be trusted.
8. Baby driver
First day back and you go to the Post Office with all the missed delivery slips – just a little acclimatisation foray out into the world. But wait: what’s this? You have forgotten how to drive. It takes about 20 minutes to adjust your seat/ mirror/temperature, even though you were the last person to drive the car. You have a complete blank about which side of the road you drive on. As for parking? Forget about it. After several missed attempts, you give up and go home.
7. The end of the affair
You suddenly have terrible separation anxiety from the people you were away with – even if they drove you mad on holiday. Everyone is feeling it and the WhatsApp group is in overdrive. Reunions are planned. Messages are constant. Oppressive, almost. But as the days pass, they start subsiding and you get panicky because you think they’ve set up another group and maybe no one told you and… Time to make an appointment with your therapist. Please God, let her be back from whatever interminable holiday she’s been on.