Day 18, 500 words, 31 days.
Barring any unforeseen circumstances, this time tomorrow evening, I’ll be in India.
I admit, I don’t have any expectations about this trip. For all I know, I’ll be spending a majority of my time working in the hotel. That would be a shame of course, but it isn’t out of the question – it’s not vacation, after all.
Maybe that’s why my own excitement for this trip is a little tempered. But this is the way it often feels whenever I travel without my wife.
Sometimes, I do wonder what it would have been like to have done more traveling as a single person. What sort of adventures, or troubles, could I have possibly gotten into then? It’s not a feeling of regret, so much as it is an innocent curiosity of what could have been – or more specifically, what I could have become.
I’m of the belief that, for anyone still without a permanent partner, traveling alone would be a most enriching, enlightening experience. I can’t think of many other opportunities that would be as stretching to one’s soul, or as illuminating of it. The discovery would be two-fold, really. The broadening of your own physical horizons would only go so far, I feel, as the deepening of your innermost being. The kind of openness and awareness I expect from a humble traveler, while alone, must come with a genuine posture of self-reflection. And how much more room there is to do so, when there just isn’t anyone else around?
But, I only speculate. Most of the traveling I’ve done as an adult, I’ve done with my wife. There were seasons when we were apart, and they were the loneliest kind. And yet, even then, I had the company of friends, who, while they couldn’t always assure understanding, they’d most certainly try, and for a while, it was enough.
When I go on these trips now, there’s always this sense of leaving something – someone – behind.
And that changes everything. I can’t help but imagine the other alternative – that is, not to leave – wouldn’t actually be so bad. At least, I’d have my wife with me. It’s just the way we’re designed now – like, uniquely compatible parts.
We’re partners. To do things without the other feels like telling a story without an audience. Who cares when there isn’t anyone around to listen?
She and I aren’t particularly good at filling each other in with the details anyway. Every time I’m away without her, the sort of exchanges we have typically involve how strange our cats behave when I’m gone, how tiring our respective days are, and at worst, I start asking her what she made for dinner without me. None of it feels all that comfortable, and this is a good thing.
I find it a lot more fun when Shuli and I tell of our travels together, to our friends. It’s an entirely different way of recounting the details. Often, it’s an honest but imperfect account of what really happened, and it’s what happens when two people are given brushes to paint upon the same canvas. Our competing strokes turn out messy and make for an embellished and improvised piece until the final product turns out, well, good enough. For us.
I haven’t left, and I miss her already. I worry for her, unnecessarily, too. She rolls with my anxiety like a good sport. She’ll just take my cheeks in her hands and say something completely nonsensical, and not at all addressing what I have asked her to do. This is her way of telling me she’ll be fine.
And so will I. The work will keep me busy and my senses likely won’t run out of stimulants in India. I’ll manage, sure…
I just might not have as much fun, not having my partner around to grab hold my face and remind me how it’s all gonna be ok.