It's a big project, leaving home for 12 months of travel. I was exhausted before I stepped on the plane. But you learn a lot in the hectic 'essay crisis' of preparations.
Boxing your worldly possessions, for example. What is it that fills your charity shop bags? Unread textbooks and unused craft materials in my case: the great promise of mastering a new subject in just 300 pages; the unfulfilled potential of coloured card, retro nick-nacks and old photos - all those creative gifts I never made the time to make.
But it was wonderful saying goodbye, and precisely because it helps you appreciate who you're leaving behind. Like a preemptive strike of major loss, you get the space to say and be told things without loosing anyone. Anyway, I felt much loved by all the wonderful people back home.
And to all you readers I've just bidden adieu to, thanks for the beers and good wishes. Job done. I can buy my return ticket now.