Back in day, I travelled a lot for work. And, as anyone who has ever travelled for work can tell you, that’s tiring. Yes, you often get to turn left on entering the plane, but not one minute of what follows is your own. Always ‘on’. Always meeting and greeting and smiling and nodding and being a ‘face’, an ambassador. And that’s not even including the actual work. It’s exhausting.
But, I did it. And, truth be told, I loved it. I fucking loved it.
Then, the man retired.
The man, as you may know, is quite a few years ahead of me in the age race. Obviously, I knew this when I made the decision to stick with him. Other men and women who have embarked on relationships with partners who are significantly older might or might not have experienced what I’m about to say, but, here it is, this is what I discovered. Loving – loving totally and completely and so much so that I sometimes feel physical pain at the thought of our not being together – the man, who does have that two decade head start on me, means that sometimes I adjust my life-plan to ensure we spend the best of our years together.
It’s not, of course, that I actually really had a life-plan. Don’t be silly. This is me we’re talking about. In business, I’m all about the planning. In life. . .well, in life maybe not so much. . . . BUT, I am a woman-child of the 1970s. I was raised to be a ‘strong woman’. I was raised to ‘take care of myself’. I fully expected to have, and, indeed I did have, a very successful ‘career’.
Then, the man retired.
And, I realized, I could spend the next twenty years working. Working at things I didn’t care that much about – working sometimes, in fact, at things I downright loathed and that worried my social conscious. Or, I could enjoy time with the man.
I chose time with the man.
We travelled. A lot. It turns out – and this is where I might surprise you – it turns out that I don’t actually like ‘travel’. I love those incredible, amazing, special encounters with individuals – those moments of pure connection that happen regardless of language or religion or custom or nationality. I love those. I love driving on the open road. I love seeing nature at her finest. I love breathing new air – dry and cold; warm and salty; sticky and steamy and stinky.
I do not, though, enjoy travel. Glazed eyed check-in clerks. Cramped tubes of people. ‘Border Control’. That hideous, hideous thing. That way of letting all visitors know, right up front, that we’re not really welcome. That we are to be distrusted. That what we’re bringing in is probably unwanted.
“Welcome. Now when will you leave?”
People always say the US Border Control officers are the worst. They’re not. I’ve seen some truly awful American Border Control officers in action – people who really do embarrass me and the US. But the rudest I’ve encountered were in good ol’ Blighty. And, truth is, the whole idea of ‘Border Control’ is unpleasant. These people have taken an unpleasant job based in an unpleasant world view. Some of them try to make it not so bad; others revel in it.
Anyway. . . .
Travel. I don’t do it now because I get paid for it or because I love what I do. I do it now, primarily, when I need to. When I’m obligated to. When I have to.
I have to travel to see my family. We live on separate continents. If I want to see them, I have to travel to them. And, I don’t object to this. I like my family. For the most part. I like the US. A good bit of the time. I like Alabama. Usually.
The pain of the steel tube is worth it.