You may have noticed that I like to be a bit prosaic in my storytelling. I greatly enjoy leaving a lot of space in my writing for interpretation. Space for connecting my story to yours. But there comes a time in a blog’s life where the facts need to come out just as they are. It’s the background. The where-I’m-coming-from. The who-are-you-anyway.
So, yeah. Let me tell you my story of our trip to Santorini, Greece.
I was working hard. I was a mid-level manager at a fast-paced high-tech company taking on every bit of responsibility I could get my little hands on, building new teams, taking care of my people. I love being a manager. It is something that I am cut out for and it uses every bit of who I am. I had just completed my MBA which I received from Boston University’s evening program. After spending every moment that I wasn’t working, sleeping, or eating (or buying a house, or getting married) either at school or doing schoolwork for 3.5 years, I had decided to wrap it up quickly by taking two classes during the shortened first summer session. That means I attended 3 hours of class 4 nights a week after work for 6.5 weeks, and met with classmates for team oriented work either before or after class or on Friday nights or weekends, and was on the board of the Women’s MBA Association, and in Network Impact, and did my homework anywhere I could squeeze it…lunch break, on the T (Boston’s subway), in the wee hours of the morning. I didn’t think this was odd. Maybe you don’t either. Sometimes in life, this is just what you do for what you love. Oh. But wait. Did I love it? Were these My passions?
I sure was happy to be finished, but what I didn’t realize was that I was heading over the top of the last hill on the roller coaster not to the grand finale of excitement and release and feeling of accomplishment that I was expecting, rather complete, total, and utter burnout. A nice cocktail when mixed with a lifelong battle with anxiety. Somebody shoulda stuck a fork in me, because I.was.done.
Of course I didn’t realize this right away. As celebration for all of my hard work, and just because we could, my husband and I took a flight to Greece for vacation almost immediately upon completion of my last final.
Let me pause the story to also let you know that at the time I was terrified of flying. I mean like, no sleep for days beforehand, knots in my stomach for weeks, break out in rashes, terr.i.fied. I held on to the armrest so hard for the 9 hour flight to Greece that I irritated the bursa sac in my elbow and it puffed up like a softball for the first 4 days of our trip. Because if you exert the right kind of upward force on the armrest you can actually keep an otherwise faltering airplane in the air (dontcha know).
Anyway, we get to Greece and have quite a lovely time traveling mostly around the Peloponnese with my Mother-in-law who lived there at the time. It was really an amazing trip. We rented a car, got off the beaten path, and (thanks to my MIL’s fluency in Greek) stayed in little villages in rented rooms over the local tavernas. Fantastic. At the end of the trip my husband and I had scheduled 3 days to ourselves on the incredibly beautiful island of Santorini.
If you aren’t familiar, Santorini is the place pictured on every tourist advertisement beckoning you to Greece. It is the one with all the white buildings with blue, domed roofs hanging off the cliff edges over the sea. Some people think it may have been the infamous “Atlantis“, in fact, before it blew up 3600 years ago. You see, the beautiful crescent-shaped island of Santorini is actually the caldera of an active volcano. Of course it is a perfectly safe and beautiful place to visit. Really there is very little chance that the volcano will erupt while you are visiting. But try telling my poor, exhausted, fully-tilted brain that. There was just no doing it. No matter how many glasses of rosé I drank while playing backgammon and watching some of the world’s most amazing sunsets, no matter how much horrible television I tried to distract myself with in the middle of the night when I could not get myself to sleep, no matter how many walks on the black sand beaches my husband I took, I could not think of anything but that island blowing up. I wanted so badly to enjoy it. It was our romantic getaway after so much work! How many people on this Earth get the opportunity to visit such a place? It was beautiful, sunny, once in a lifetime. And yet, the last night we were there I was up the entire night, curled up in the corner of the couch, shaking like a leaf and expecting any moment to be my last. Not really wanting to get on an airplane either, but just wanting the whole thing to be over. Yep, like I said. Done.
So. This is where I have been. There is more…oh, so much more. This wasn’t even the lowest of the low. But it is when I started to think maybe I should do something about how I was living my life. About how my story was unraveling. ')}