The Three Stages Of Return Trip Anxiety
Doing 80 down the highway with the open road in front of you is an unmatched feeling. I prefer to drive alone on a road trip that lasts over three hours long, but that’s just me. If you’re smart, you took Friday off from work, meaning that you either got on the road late Thursday night after getting out of the office or woke up early Friday morning. I’m a huge fan of the early Friday morning drive but again, that’s just personal preference.
And in that moment, as you’re hurtling down the highway jamming to Springsteen or some DMB deep cuts, life is genuinely good.
The out of office e-mail is on, you’ve got a five dollar latte from Starbucks chilling in the center console, and you know that the weekend ahead is going to be fun. Maybe you’ve got a wedding, perhaps you’re just going home to chill and catch up with the parents - whatever it is you’re doing, it’s a hell of a lot better than being at work on Friday and you’ve taken this time off for a specific reason.
And while it’s great on the drive there, I’d argue that there are few things in life that are worse than the return trip. And now, if you’ll allow me, I’d like to go into an extremely Barack Obama voice for these next few words. Let me be clear - this is not a commentary on the Sunday Scaries.
For me, the anxiety that goes along with that return trip nearly always cripples me come Saturday afternoon, as I’m sipping a cold beer with close friends or family members or getting ready to board a bus from the chapel to the reception hall. No matter how hard I try, I am unable to get the nagging, intrusive thought out of my head that I’m going to have to get back in my car and drive back home in a little less than 24 hours.
It’s enough to make me think about cutting myself off from drinking for the rest of the day - not enough to *actually* stop drinking, but the return trip gives me pause. And while it’s really easy for everyone reading this to say “Just don’t think about it” in regards to the return trip, it is something else entirely to actually do that. There are three stages to this issue, and I'll tell you up front that it doesn't end well.
You’re not going to let on right away that the return trip is even a thing. The drive home the next day is going to be dominating your thoughts, but you’re going to carry on outwardly as if everything is fine. You’re still trying to be in the moment, but with each passing hour that gets harder and harder to do. You’re not quite at the point where you’re settting an alarm for the next day on your phone, but the thought of the return trip grows larger with each break in speeches from the groomsmen/bridesmaids or commercial interruption in college football action.
2. Drink about it
You’ll go up to the open bar at the wedding reception and ask for a double or ask your dad to break out the nice bottle of scotch in the liquor cabinet. Staving off negative thoughts is easier with a head full of liquor, and you think that maybe, just maybe you can drown out the voices in your head with the heard stuff.
The vacation is over. Friday night was fun and all and even early Saturday morning was great. But those return trip demons are now at the forefront of your brain, and now you’re basically on a countdown clock. You’ve set an alarm for the next morning, you looked at The Weather Channel app to see if you’re going to have to drive through a rain or snow storm, and there’s just no chance of having any more fun the rest of the evening.