The last few days were the hardest.
Never mind the months of late nights, missed deadlines, malfunctioning servers, storage constraints, crap data, uncertain roadmap, pressure, bad decisions (mostly my own), new surprises, misbehaving databases, etc etc. I work hard, I can work hard, I do work hard and I work on the kind of project that requires hard thinking, experimentation and ingenuity. So I can do all that - but once I knew that our long-since-planned break was around the corner, it got so much harder.
A week or so before we left, I half-joked to everyone that the moment we arrived, I'd get ill. It was inevitable, I said - indeed, it happened last time we came to San Francisco, like clockwork. The 11 hour plane ride - the longest stretch of time I'd spent doing nothing in several months - is the cue for my body to shut down all the defences, stop fending off all the bugs and actually get ill.
I finished up, made sure everyone knew vaguely what they had to do in my absence, worried about minor things that hadn't quite been done but were still niggling, unsure as to whether everything we'd achieved in the run up to Christmas was enough. Couldn't stop reading emails I'd already read twice, for nuances I might have missed. Then I was told in no uncertain terms to get the fuck out the office - in a nice way.
Home, pack, pizza. Sleep - fitfully. Wake, early. Rush around, ensure cat is OK, worry about cat, cab arrives. No time left.
M4, Heathrow, check in. Lounge - yay! Breakfast. Departure gate - upgrade! In your face! A good omen and a surprise which made the holiday feel that little bit extra special.
11 hours later, arrive. Tired, but excited. SFO, a greeting with antlers, cab to SoMa. Already, I can feel gunk building up at the back of my throat. Possibly just the air pressure or a reaction to something? No. It's a cold. The cold I've been putting off for months and months through adrenaline and exhaustion.
48 hours later - better. Jetlag's hit us like a hammer but staying up as late as we could and sleeping as late as we can has seen most of that off, hopefully. So nice to be back here again. Our gracious hosts are wonderful and we've rented, by accident, the world's most enormous car to dart around in. Haven't felt like drinking much due to the tiredness but I think I'll remedy that tonight. Mini-break in Sonoma hopefully sorted. Miles away - literally- from the pushing and pulling of our normal lives.
We needed this holiday and it's finally happened. Now - time to think. What's next?