… and what a weekend it was. As a surprise birthday treat, my husband booked a weekend trip to DC, home of my bff Jen and favorite little brother. Also, a place neither my husband nor I’d ever visited, and a must-see for a museum-lover like him.
It was wonderful. More details and pictures later, but since this was the first weekend of Settling In September, we should talk about the challenges (and joys!) of traveling with a spouse, shouldn’t we?
“How was the trip? You’ve said you don’t travel well together. How was it this time?” she asked at the first opportunity for girl chat, the men discussing the finer points of power tools outside. (Totally not kidding. Power tools + men = at least five minutes of engrossed conversation.)
Strange, I thought, that I hadn’t thought about it. I’m a meta-thinker.
I’ve always loved road trips. Or at least, the idea of road trips, but few have been as good as those I’ve taken alone: Rhode Island to home in NYC in a rental car because my flight was delayed; NYC to Chicago by way of Knoxville with my cats in tow; Chicago to Knoxville for a stolen long weekend with my beau; Knoxville to North Carolina for a weekend stolen from a stolen week. You can’t beat the sparkle (and color schemes for future painting projects) of long drives with music only you choose and an animal companion or two. Once or twice I’ve had a good time with a human companion, but generally I enjoy drives better alone.
And Joey and I have not been good together on road trips.
Atlanta: he was stressed by the traffic (he of the glorious traffic-less-ness of Knoxville); I was annoyed that he wouldn’t take my coaching (she of the rush-hour traffic of Chicago).
Puerto Rico, honeymoon: we arrived at our sweet B&B with tear-stained faces and rigid jaws, neither looking nor talking to each other by that point. Our host tried to make us feel better by remarking on the number of newlyweds arriving looking just like us after the three hour drive from the airport.
I could share more examples but I won’t. We get tired, we get stressed, we get crabby, we feed off each others’ lack of sympathy while offering none back. And honestly? We’re each trying to prove we know what we’re doing, even when we don’t.
Three years later, we’re still in that power struggle thing, not because we want control, but because we want confidence. Quit telling me what to do. I was capable before you; I can still do it all by myself now. And if you’re right, I have to be wrong, right? And then you might not think I know anything.
But this trip wasn’t bad. He drove, I kept myself amused. We didn’t sing together at the top of our lungs, thrilled with the relief of escaping, but perhaps that’s the awesomeness of this life. We don’t escape. So while we carry our annoyances and I told you I knew what I was doing with us, we also bring that person who knows we get grumpy without sustenance, love anything to do with engines, and might pass out from a quick bike ride on an empty stomach.
We carry ourselves in our hearts.
Look, it might not make for the kind of wheeee, I’m freeeee exhilaration I once had, but we’re getting there. Nobody yelled, nobody cried, nobody threatened to leave (or get out of the car). Progress comes in small steps for some of us.
And we did sing that one song together – while we danced.