Well put. I suspect that you did experience change, and may not realize it until later. I notice it in your words as you describe your week.
Frat Friday is a reality, and actually is just as much a part of it as the rest. For me, it's *my* decompression - like you, I never really feel like I've had the same decomp feeling like most people claim, but the Friday and saturday Tourist specials put me in a different space - like I now have to deal with the outside world in my home. Sure, I go thru about 2 days of snark - but it's more of what I want to do next year rather than a morosity of having to go back to Default Camp... maybe it's because I have a job I find a total blast, maybe it's because I have a spouse who I love superdeeply (and vice versa), maybe because, like the woman you spoke about - for me, the burn goes on 52 weeks a year.
My personal 2 favorite times to be on playa is the week before the event, and the week after. See, as a kid we used to camp in Central Nevada, so in a real sense it is like returning to my childhood. There's a sense of purpose, a drive, and excitement of what we're first building, then mooping, that is different than the 7 days of the event. Sadly, this year, due to circumstances beyond my control I missed both; while this burn was in a way far better than any I've had yet, I missed the closeness and camaderie and... solitude... the other times give me. If I could, I'd volunteer for DPW (in a stone cold heartbeat) to be out there building the city infra, and the Guardians after, but alas... I have a job and bills to pay!
SO yes... come back. But volunteer with, yeah, someone like DPW and come out early... because it will change your view of the playa from that point forward...