September last year, I bumped into a friend in the most surprising way. We’d met before in the summer, went out once, and called it there. We said goodbye and went our separate ways.
That afternoon in September, he froze when he saw me, and so did I. After exchanging “How are you?” and “Why are you here?” we decided to meet at Costa in Portswood the next day.
And so we met up, telling each other the news, and of course, what we’d done in the summer. With utter excitement and sparks in his eyes, he told me about his 3-week adventures in Thailand. He started by telling me the bits about teaching children there, then the story continued to the wildest part: a full moon party all night long, getting drunk on a ridiculously cheap bucket (bucket!) of liquor.
He then told me that his friends were getting annoyed at him for mentioning Thailand over and over again, weeks after the adventure had ended.
I secretly smiled and thought, poor guy, he’s having post-vacation blues.
Little did I know, later on I would suffer from the same thing.
It’s been 8 months since I came back to the city I should call home, but never feel like it to me. That time in Southampton was like a bubble, special in its own way and disintegrated from other parts of my life. It really, truly felt like a holiday. I lived in the moment, with pure happiness, much freedom, and no worries about life.
There’s a little pizza place in Italy, tucked in a corner somewhere around Trastevere, where I had the best pizza in my life. It had smokiness from the wooden oven, the fresh tomato sauce and delightful mozzarella cheese. So good, it’s set the bar so high that no franchise pizza could ever come close. That chunk of pizza I ate in summer 2012 remains the best to this day. After that, every pizza is such a disappointment. They taste ordinary, and in some occasions, bland. I knew then that eating that pizza would forever ruin other pizzas, and it would be long before I could find a pizza that could match it.
My life in Southampton is like that pizza.
I’ve been having the symptoms of post-holiday blues for quite a while now, with the most prominent being tiredness, strong feeling of nostalgia, and depression. I’d been averse to use the word ‘depression’ before, as I didn’t (still don’t) want to be dramatic, but now I’ve accepted it as it is. I’ve been experiencing massive hair loss since a few months ago, and I tried to ignore it, thinking that I was overreacting. But looking back, the only time I had this hair loss experience was 7 years ago, when I started school in a place I absolutely loathed. I was really depressed back then, and to this day, it’s still the worst time in my life.
“Be outrageous. Go the whole hog. Make sure everything you do is so completely crazy it’s unbelievable,” Roald Dahl says. And when I made the resolution for 2014, I did it, and lived by it.
And that’s what made 2014 so remarkable.
A wise man that he is, David Nicholls writes, “But the trouble with living in the moment is that the moment passes.” Sadly, he can’t be truer than that. That moment passed.
I remember, in a message to this friend, I tried to explain how I was feeling about being here, after coming back from England. ‘Maybe this is like how you felt after Thailand, only this was 16 months holiday instead of 3 weeks.’
It’s wearing off though, ever so slowly.
Or so I hope.