With six days notice, I asked my jobs if they would mind me disappearing for two weeks after starting with both of them the week before. I was expecting firm nos. Or at best apologetic nos. But they were both amazing, and said they would cover me and the jobs would still exist when I got back to Australia. Again... Real life?
After a whirl of contacting friends, packing, brief sojourns to Kuala Lumpur and Dubai airports, back-to-back episodes of Under the Dome, and a stomach full of butterflies, I was standing in my house.
I managed to keep my Saturday evening arrival a secret from my mum, who was expecting to pick me up from the airport on Sunday morning. I don't think I'll ever try to surprise someone like that again, because it was constant stress trying to get everyone to keep to my story. But it was so worth it. We both agreed it was a life moment we'd never forget.
The two weeks I spent at home went back in a fabulous flash, full of trips to see family and friends in Wiltshire, London and Bristol, and I even managed a few nights in my own bed. I didn't think I'd see the people I saw until February next year, so every reunion was lovely. The local pub quiz, drinks in Soho, family dinner at my gran's, an evening Just Dance session...
And this surprise return home happened six months into my year-long trip. Saying "see you in six months" after the first half of my year away went so quickly was a lot more palatable than "see you in a year".
I did have to say goodbye to my house again though. It's still in the process of being prepped for being put on the market, and will almost definitely be in someone else's hands by the time I get back for good. In a way it was harder to say goodbye to the only family house I've ever lived in this time, partly because it was even more final than last time, and also because I didn't have that excitement of starting my trip by going to Rio for Carnival. Instead I was returning to my glamourous jobs in a cafe and restaurant in wintry, Antarctic wind-beaten Melbourne.
But who'd've thought that I'd have a brief break from travelling the world to see my friends and family? And for free? I count myself very lucky.