Seven years and four days and four hours
A lot happens when you travel. If you’re open to it, you can learn from the experience. Not only about where you go, and who you meet, but also about yourself. If you’re like me, you approach trips with gleeful anticipation. You get to know a new place, if only for a bit. Tasting something you’ve never tried, or smelling new things scenting the air. Hearing unfamiliar sounds. Feeling new or old or forgotten things.
I started a journey seven years ago that was so scary, I sort of had a false start. That is to say, I freaked. I called friends who knew me well and asked what they thought was going on? It was so unlike me to shrink from this adventure. I didn’t recognize myself in this reaction.
Where was I going that made me cower and second-guess my decision? I might just as well have been going to Mars. I was saying yes to a committed dating relationship with a solid guy. Ruh roh.
How do I know it was seven years ago? Because my husband of 4.5 years took me to dinner at the place we shared our first date, seven years ago on Saturday. Table 23 at Les Zygomates. A little deuce in the front of the restaurant, a little too small for dinner, really. But in our first date, which lasted four hours, we didn’t notice. It was the only first date I’d ever had where I didn’t look at my watch.
When the last server stopped by our table to ask us to just pull the door shut behind us as we left, only then did we realize that we were the last ones left in the place! No more diners, no more employees. Tables cleared and bar re-stocked. Set for lunch the next day. What?? Four hours? Really?
Okay, four and half. That’s how long it took us to cross the country from Irvine, California to Boston, MA (see Yermo Be There). All these years later, I was still a little nervous about making the cross-country trip. The last time I’d done the trip was with a boyfriend from college. During that trip, right around Chicago, I solidified my position on gun control. Having achieved a completely homicidal state, I had a moment of clarity: “Thank God there’s no gun in my hand.” Friends, this is only the slightest of exaggerations. I blame it partly on the mis-match between my then soon-to-be-really-this-time-it's-for-good-ex-boyfriend. I blame it partly on the stress of the trip. He wasn’t really a bad person, as he put it he had “massive potential for growth.” He wasn’t an angel either. And I wouldn’t say I was the easiest, most self-actualized person on the planet, at least not this planet anyway. So together...not so good.
But here’s the funny thing about travel. Because it puts us in unfamiliar states of being, it calls up our true nature. The essence of who we are is exposed and we’re prevented from fooling ourselves and everyone else. So what am I saying here, I’m essentially a homicidal maniac at base? Hm, let me re-state this... our abilities to cope with stress, or our lack of the same, that is what is called forth. And maybe a bit of our true potential. (Ask the 8th tech support person I spoke with today about my potential for violence...)
But I digress...where was I going? Oh yes, this destabilizing aspect of travel, this is why travel is the ultimate compatibility test. How does each of us handle it? More importantly, how do we handle it together?
So this trip, how’d I do? We did so well. We laughed every day, we oohed and ahed at a lot of the same things. We agreed on what little detours were worth it (the World’s Largest Truck Stop - see Getting to the Meat of the Matter) and which weren’t (the Kool-Aid Museum). We never even played one audio book. We popped one in somewhere around Eastern Colorado, I think. Then quickly decided we’d rather talk. It took me more time to figure out the CD player than we actually spent trying to listen to a CD!
(Sorry Chiuyee, it was very thoughtful of you and I’m sure they’re great!)
In seven years, we’ve traveled to Antarctica and back, to Vancouver, Toronto, New Orleans, Florida, Maryland, New York, the Berkshires, Las Vegas, and across the country. All in the blink of an eye. Our journey has included births and deaths, suffering and joy. I’m still learning about myself in ways that surprise me, I think he is, too. We're learning how to be better, together. I don’t have any fear looking forward. I know it will be filled with sweet moments and laughs just like the trip so far.
Thanks Doc, I love you! And, we have a date May 16, 2010 - Table 23.