Monday, November 26, 2007


We've been travelling for nearly two months now. For eight weeks, or sixty days, or however many hours and minutes and seconds make up two months, we have been nearly exclusively in each others company the entire time. We do talk to other people. We've met some fabulous and fun people from all over the world during our travels; however, by and far, the majority of the time, we are alone together.

It's been, uh, interesting?

For the most part it's been fine. Actually, it's been better than fine. We have our own roles in this travel partnership: As I said earlier, BG carries and manages the electronics, I take care of the medical kit. We share laundry responsibility, and I keep the hand sanitizer bottles full. I make sure we have enough toilet paper, and BG makes sure we have enough money. It's great. By and large, all of the things we need to take care of get taken care of one way or another.

We also find ourselves sometimes taking care of each other, like the few days in Pushkar when I was feeling weird and achy ("It is NOT Dengue Fever, Val!") or when BG was exploding with altitude sickness in Lhasa. The healthy half would go out foraging for sick food, electrolyte-replenishing fluids, and offer back rubs or whatever else was required to make it through the night. I could also argue that taking care of each other means that BG finds me a Diet Coke when I'm in a bad mood, and I find him (and me?) apple strudel and chocolate cake when he needs it.

I should add (before any of you throw up at the sugary-sweetness) that things aren't always so fun and fancy free. We have had a few tense days and some loud conversations, and there were times when I thought that I should just pack up and fly the eff home, because this was just not fun anymore. However, we had a revelation that made a big difference to how we're interacting and working together: If you want something, just ask for it.


You know when you're trying to be all nice and helpful, and the one person asks, "So, do you want to do this?" and you totally do NOT want to do that thing, but you say, "Sure, we can do that," and then the next thing you know, you're off staring at a collection of guns and Q-tips from 1782 or something. Then the person who never wanted to do that thing (me) gets cranky and pouty, and starts dragging her feet and sighing loudly. That's not helpful, because then the other person says, "Why are you acting like this? I asked you if you wanted to do this and you said you did," and it's true, so there's no room for complaining.

What IS helpful is to say, "You know, that's not really my thing." Then you can choose to do something else, or do this particular thing for a shorter period of time, or you can (and this is key) go your separate ways for a couple of hours. It's no big deal. Sometimes you need a break from each other too -- there's a coffee shop in every city around the world, and all of them have comfortable chairs that one can spend a bit of time in as an alternate plan.

Conversely, when asked, "What do you want to do?", and there IS something you want to do, say so; don't do the whole, "I don't know, what do YOU want to do?" or "I don't care, whatever you want to do is fine," because then you will end up staring at that collection of ballistic missiles and Q-tips.

Hypothetically speaking, of course.


Egan said...

ok, i'll bite. where is this aerospace aural hygiene museum?

EJC said...

Quite frankly, I think q-tips are far more complicated than ballistic missiles... think about it.

Fire anything from a plane and it'll do damage, whether it's a missile or not.

But q-tips... well they're another thing. How do they roll the paper so tight? I've rolled papers before, so I know it's not easy to do. And secondly, how does the cotton stick to said paper? Glue? Tape? Magnets?

I'm just saying, is all.