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A SURVIVAL GUIDE FOR PEOPLE WHO TRAVEL TOGETHER

TALES FROM THE ROAD

 

 

INTRODUCTION

    

     Charley and I have done a lot of travelling together over more than fifty years.  It started while we were engaged.  I was still in college and he was an Air Force officer assigned to Dover, Delaware.  For two years we drove back and forth between Colby College in Waterville, Maine, and Dover Air Force Base in his white VW “Beetle,” shouting fraternity and sorority songs to stay awake:  “Give a rousing cheer/For the boys are here/Lift your glasses high…”

     After we’d been married a year, Charley was assigned to Viet Nam.  We met in Honolulu halfway through his year-long tour in ‘67.  He arrived at the agreed-upon hotel at 3 a.m., but the desk clerk swore his Rolodex didn’t have any record of my being there.  “Try under my name,” Charley said to the man.

     “No, sir, no ‘Charles Carey.’” 

     “Try again under ‘Pamela Carey.’  That’s spelled C-A-R-E-Y.”

     .”Wait a minute!  Here she is!  Her card was stuck to the card in front of it.”

     “Honey, it’s me,” Charley said quietly, knocking on my door.  Since I was expecting him the next morning, I was sound asleep with my hair in curlers and a mud-gunk mask all over my face.  Today cell phones would prevent such tragedies.  “Open the door!”

     Half asleep, I stumbled to the deadbolt and slid it back.  Thirty seconds later, bits of my mud mask hung all across Charley’s stubble.

     We began to travel with another Air Force couple, but he was a pilot and none of us stayed in one place very long.  Eventually we travelled with friends from each town where we settled.   We learned quickly there are close friends you can travel with and close friends you can’t.  After we had kids, we gave up travelling with other couples.  It was less exhausting not to have to make decisions for four or more, some of whom qualified in the “bitch” category, were ALWAYS thirty minutes late, or simply couldn’t make up their minds.  Charley and I needed our “quiet time,” without any explanations for the hours we might be missing-in-action.

     Travel is one of the things we enjoy doing together the most….unless there’s an argument.  And on foreign trips, especially, one of us will always get pissed off, probably from a lack of sleep.  Let’s face it – we all dream of an idyllic trip before we leave, but no trip can be perfection.  There can be miscommunication, unforeseen emergencies, as well as plain old physical discomfort.  No accommodations are quite like home.  A sense of humor and the ability to “roll with the punches” are essential, even if the punches come in the form of a stolen car or poison ivy surrounding your torso.

     When our sons were playing amateur and professional baseball (college and the Red Sox organization), we travelled across twenty states to watch them play.  During Charley’s professional life as a banker, we travelled around the world.  In retirement, we devote several weeks a year to international travel.   In addition, we continue to drive from Massachusetts to Florida and back as “snowbirds” each year.  On one of those trips, we didn’t speak from Massachusetts to South Carolina.  It wasn’t smart to have an argument before leaving on a 1200-mile ride together in a small metal cylinder! 

     When we travel we are on a figurative journey without a map.  We know memories of the unexpected, the funny, the touching, and the exasperating will remain with us long after we get home.  We will always have that!  It’s mind-blowing to immerse ourselves in another culture, even if it is within our own country.  It teaches tolerance and respect.  It’s about “crossing borders into foreign regions of the soul,” as Sue Monk Kidd said in Travelling with Pomegranates

     I developed some unwritten “rules” along the way to help us survive our trips.  Sometimes we follow them; sometimes we don’t.  May those who journey together do so in reverence, excitement, and never-ending repetition of the mantra, “Zip it!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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