Tripping Together

Several years ago, my husband and I got into a discussion, a/k/a fight.  I told him he wanted us to travel more than I was comfortable with.  Unlike him, I don’t react to change well.  He can return from a 10-hour flight that would leave anyone else jetlagged and incoherent; he’s up the next morning, raring to go.  “Jetlag is bullshit,” he recently told the entire table at a dinner party.

Well, it isn’t — for most of us mortals, anyway.  And we all try to create a precarious balance in our lives that makes us just comfortable enough without going into a coma from boredom.  The trick, in a life together, is to find a balance between the two of you.

But, more to the point, the day we argued about travel, my husband made me understand something I’d overlooked.  “Think about it,” he said.  “Think about all the trips we’ve taken together and with the kids.  Think about all the great memories we have.  Those trips have been some of the best times of our lives.”

That all stopped me in a way I don’t usually get stopped and made me look at our lives differently.  Travel isn’t just about going somewhere else; it’s also an intense experience with the person you’re traveling with.  The two of you — or three or five or whatever — spend more time than you ordinarily do together.  You’re enjoying or suffering through novel experiences, meeting new people, seeing different ways of living.  You’re creating memories together that are intensely personal — and, in many ways, the places you visit are only a backdrop.

It usually kills me to lose an argument, but I can live with it when it forces my eyes to open more.  So, today, I’m sitting in a hotel room in San Luis Obispo, California.  Both my husband and I are hammering away at our laptops.  But we’ll remember this trip — seeing our daughter in her new job and apartment, spending time at a friend’s olive farm, winding our way down the coast, drinking so much wine we could have starred in “Sideways.”

Maybe I’m a slow learner, I’ve finally figured it out.  The farther away you are, the closer you can become?  Sometimes, it works that way.  I plan to offer it as a toast tonight.

(Copyright 2009 by Ruth Pennebaker)

8 comments… add one
  • I love this post!  It made me look forward to my trip to London in June even more.  Enjoy the wine country.  Here’s to you.

  • OH…this sounds like such a great trip! How lovely that you can do it and enjoy the wine, too! I hope you have a great time visiting your daughter all set with her new life.

  • Mei Link

    It kills me to lose an argument too. But your story makes us the “slow learners” appreciate the bigger picture at the end of the day. Thanks!

  • Nancy Link

    As I type this on my laptop, Bill & are are sitting in a hotel room in Cusco, also hammering on our laptops, with a touch of altitude sickness.  Tonight at dinner, I think I will steal your toast.

  • I know how you feel about how exhausting travel can be but I also agree with your husband that it brings you as a family so much closer together. My kids have such vivid memories of their time traveling. Athena, who is 8, designed a web page when she was 7. Most of it is about all the places she’s been to, not about staying home:

  • Wow; never thought about traveling in this way before but it’s so true. Those memories solidify if we are out of our usual element (e.g. away from home) and with others be they family, friends or acquaintances.

    Light bulb moment.  Love those.

  • Winston Link

    The farther away you are, the closer you can become?

    That’s an amazing conclusion!!!

    On a trip with someone, no matter the type of relationship, all the mundane trivia of the everyday routine is removed, and all the otherwise disjointed moments of time actually spent together have been pulled together as compactly as a string of pearls.

    Through the years, I have heard couples say they feel closer after having spent a vacation together.  I guess that’s why— they are languishing in the afterglow of all those pearls.

    Still, I hate to travel.  It’s a travail.
    I would like to try it the “Gilded Age” way—
    with an entourage of servants!

  • He is a smart man!  A person rarely regrets taking a trip – not taking them is the regret.  I’m leaving for one next weekend and I can’t wait to make some memories.

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