I drove home through the darkness last night, feeling heavy. Unsure if I wanted to curse or cry, I had this epiphany that Industry would take everything - all time and effort, energy and passion - and return a certificate (perhaps printed in color) in return. And my 'live to work' philosophy which felt rather bright and shiny in Spain suddenly appeared dull and tired.
"You will stop," I told my brain, aware that my neurons were drooping, synapses beginning to slosh through misery. "So you didn't get a certificate - you didn't have a particularly good year. And you've received certificates before - it's a pretty fleeting pleasure. What lingers more is basking in the Spanish sunshine. Taking photos of interesting architecture and lingering over spa treatments. You make more money than you need. You work with brilliant people and go fabulous places and learn fascinating things. So stop it."
And I mostly did.
I came home to a house my mom cleaned and to a new gate my dad built (called the escape-proof entry point to the barrier of awesomeness) and greeted the sweetest of puppies. I gently touched the petals of a daisy they'd bought me and felt grateful that I'd skipped a morning of meetings to explain photos and buy breakfast for them. I gave hugs and kisses before saying good-bye and opening the door to my professional life at home once again.
Overview and awards dinners. Networking and catching up, gritting my teeth through unpleasant conversations and giggling when someone offered a sarcastic comment. I had caught up on email during a ridiculously long layover in PHL, sitting on the floor near an outlet for long enough to make a muscle in my back twinge painfully at random intervals.
Still feeling sad despite stern warnings, I swallowed an extra half-dose of anti-depressant and plodded upstairs to fall into bed, happily arrange my multitude of pillows (a twin bed and two pillows has me grateful for my giant bed and mounds of pillows). And I woke this morning and went back to work. And it was good.
I make more money than I need. I work with brilliant people and go fabulous places and learn fascinating things. And though I wish I had more than a few days to settle before the next trip, I've still escaped the slide into a depressed state, at least for now.