Let’s face it; I was never a very good traveler. I always preferred a seat on the couch and reality TV to the seat in coach and reality itself. I was much better at reading a mystery than reading a map, and culinary adventures were secondary to fast food familiarity. In short, I was afraid of the unknown and uncomfortable with the unfamiliar. Then a funny thing happened…I married a tour guide.
She loved travel, she loved telling me about travel, she wanted me to experience travel and love it as much as she did. Though I wasn’t enthusiastic about the going somewhere part, I was in love with the quintessential traveler…so it was in my best interest to pay attention and at least to feign interest. Fake it ‘til you make it.
I actually planned our first attempt at taking a trip together. We were going to meet her parents. Considering how easily I got stressed by travel, I perhaps should have reconsidered planning the single most stressful trip possible for a young suiter. To say I came across as a bit disorganized would be an understatement; to say I came across as a bit dim would be kind. The air fare was not cheap, as we apparently had to pay for each layover, and there was a premium for arriving in the dead of night. Also, I must reiterate…maps were not my forte, and having lived in New York City for years, neither were cars. I kept getting lost. I kept asking her (im)patient father for directions, which I kept forgetting and having to ask for again. I stalled the car at least once, and I frankly didn’t enjoy the frog’s legs that her mom made as a special dinner just for our visit.
The fact that she said yes when I proposed (and her parents didn’t disown her) gave us a second chance at traveling together, this time in the right way…with her planning the honeymoon. What an extraordinary experience! We stayed in a bed and breakfast (my first one), we went to an interesting location (Nova Scotia), we ate amazing food (inexpensive oysters by the dozen, seafood of many kinds, delicious deserts), we experienced culture (museums, outdoor Shakespeare plays), and adventure (time on a sailboat). We met wonderful people, because my wife insisted that we meet and get to know the locals, eat where they ate, and go to the places they recommended. With her leading the way we didn’t get lost once. With her planning I was free to enjoy letting go in order to go with the flow.
We continue to visit interesting places and meet interesting people. Thanks to my marriage to a tour guide, I’ve learned to embrace the unfamiliar, to enjoy the journey, and to seek out the unexpected. With her encouragement I fell in love with the idea of Elsewhere.