Nothing holds up a mirror like an honest customs form, a cruise ship closing statement, and wearing jeans on the flight home. Just how much stuff did you buy? How much did you drink? How much did you eat? The answer is right there in black and white, or gripping your waist like a vise.
You can cheat on the customs form, but that seems like an invitation for bad karma. Instead, I put it all in a spreadsheet, trolling through receipts at the cabin desk like a sinner at confession. It’s a sobering exercise, predicting work that lies ahead–packing it all, lugging the heavier suitcases, finding someplace to put it all when you get home, and finally, paying the credit card bill. Paying import duty for going over the $800 per person limit is peanuts compared to the rest of the hassle.
If the customs form doesn’t bring you back to earth, your waist will do it, as you travel back home in those formerly comfy jeans. Days and days of walk-up bars and five course menus take their toll. A cruise may sound like the perfect rest, but be sure to use the stairs and dance at the deck parties — or be prepared to change your belt notch for the trip home.
I’m not really complaining. I’m thrilled with my new treasures and memories. It was truly relaxing to have babysitting, restaurant dining and housekeeping for days on end. But if I seem a little somber, don’t be surprised. It isn’t the return to commute and office life. I’ve just got a reentry hangover.