There is an inevitability about stages of life. We can rear and buck and move the chess pieces around, but the conveyor belt is what it is. And where is the clunking shifting of gears felt more keenly than on a holiday? When you are stuck with your own treacherous brain; at the mercy of your madness. It might go a little like this:
1. Pre-holiday collapse
Must get ducks in row. Can’t find ducks. Ducks are bastards. Can’t really think. Brain not holding on to… what was I saying? Need nap. Need meds. Not sure can face the flight. Will I be burgled? Will the damp patch in the ceiling spread? Should be at gym and madly juicing in triumph of hope over experience. Pass me the crisps, please.
2. Day-before frenzy
Wax and mani/pedi No, one piece. No, bikini. No, tankini. No, burkini… Suncream. So expensive. Nurofen and Dioralyte and bite spray. Books. Many books. So heavy. Kindle? Trying-on session. Talk self down from ledge. No one will be looking at you, dear. Except in horror.
Where did those spider veins come from? They’re new. Hate my luggage. Hate myself. Hate flying. Terrorism. Doubts about holiday companions. Big doubts. Dread. Maybe will get mysterious illness and not have to go.
3. Airport trolley dash
Trapped in departure lounge. Spend, spend, spend. New trainers for holiday runs that I will clearly do every morning at sunrise.
New sunglasses for general air of Faye Dunaway glamour that I will leave on the plane. Many, many magazines. New scent because I want to waft.
New foundation as I will be tawny and amazing in two days. Fake tan in case am not. Vodka because of course. So heavy all this stuff. Why are airports so sweaty? Oh God, I think my back has just gone.
4. First dawn
Oof, I have a headache. Am I ill? I bet I’m ill. I have never looked older or greyer or fatter. I cannot venture out into the light. I will wear my floor-length kaftan and sunbathe in private. I don’t want to talk to anyone. I can hear people at breakfast. I hate them.
I should be at work, future-proofing my career. Maybe I should start my novel today. Yes. I’ll make some notes… did I just fall asleep?
Paxos looks good on Instagram. Should I be somewhere more barefoot? Why aren’t I climbing mountains in Colorado? I’m so run-of-the-mill. Why aren’t there any markets here? I want vintage, not olive oil.
But at least these guys are not that annoying. In fact, I think I may be making friends for life... Is he flirting with me? His wife is nice. Not that nice. But thin. I’m pleased with my tan. But skin cancer. But wrinkles. But still. Maybe I’ll drop down to factor 20 today. And I won’t drink at lunchtime today. That way I can have an early evening run.
6. Last day
I love everyone. I love it here. Shall we come back next year? Or shall we all go somewhere else, but together? Definitely together. I’m going to make those online photo books and give them to everyone as presents. Memories. I feel changed. I have grown. My priorities are different. I’m going to meditate. Maybe now. OK no, not right now, but maybe later. After the run I definitely will.
7. Homeward bound
So many emails unopened. Heart is pounding. What’s the airport wi-fi password? Why was he so annoying about the hire car? And why am I always the one who tidies the kitchen? People just take the piss really, don’t they? Maybe Patagonia next year. On a horse.
I can have lessons. I’m going to take up pottery. To help with stress. Will I be fired? Then how will I pay the mortgage? I don’t feel well. Cancer? I don’t think holidays are helpful, in the end. Do you?