We found out recently that John cannot request vacation time during the two weeks I have off at the end of second year. As I come off an 11-day vacation sans husband (ready as all get out to see the main squeeze waiting for me at the arrivals gate and shamelessly seize the Love Actually moment), I’m a bit blue about this news. Not to say that we haven’t had some wonderful trips together in the last year—our much delayed honeymoon; our Thanksgiving excursion to Tuscany; our week at the beach with some of the best people on Earth; little getaways hither and tither—but it feels like so many of our memorable adventures have been experienced separately. They’re always choices, of course, and I don’t think either of us regrets our decisions toward brief separations in favor of, say…a summer of medical service in Guatemala…a clerkship in Ghana…a backpacking trip through Europe, Northern Africa, and the Middle East…a quick couple weeks in post-earthquake Port-au-Prince.
A colleague of mine once commented that he appreciated how John and I have maintained our independent pursuits and personalities within our marriage and that we support each other’s separate, distinct passions. Especially considering there is so much overlap in our professional and personal interests, this is one of my absolute favorite compliments. While I certainly feel changed by my marriage (and I think I have, to some extent, had an effect on John as well), it’s important that I keep a sense of self outside of it as well, which runs far deeper than our series of solo journeys.
A family friend once jokingly teased John that he was surprised that he let me go off to medical school a couple hundred miles away. John didn’t miss a beat: “I don’t let her do anything.” True, but he could have made the whole experience a hell of a lot worse.
I really love this bit about us. And yet, though I’ll do my damnedest to not pout quite so much when John leaves me for his next “man week” (hopefully not on our anniversary this time around), I hope this is the last year in which we’ll have to do the bulk of our adventuring separately. Just hoping…now if some of the higher powers at Penn and Christiana could throw us a frickin’ bone, that’d be swell.
P.S. Will I totally gross you out if I share some entirely too cutesy traditions of mine? 1) I love postcards. The pictures are way better than anything I can capture, and the postage is less than that of a letter. I try to send John a postcard from every place I travel, even if we’re there together…so it’s kind of like I’m receiving the card as well…what started as something somewhat romantic has become mostly self-serving. Aren’t I the loving wife? 2) So…I just noticed this about myself on this last trip. Turns out, when I travel without John, I almost always choose a song that I, for that trip only, associate with him. I’ll listen to it once or twice (or more) a day and give myself permission to think about and miss him. God, I’m like a small child needing a lullaby to coax myself to sleep, but it actually helps. When I studied abroad in college, I used “In My Place” by Coldplay. When I moved to Philly, it was Nickel Creek’s “When You Come Back Down.” This time it was “Airplanes” by the Local Natives. Kind of weird that I took part in this ritual for so long without realizing…not weird at all that I use music as a coping mechanism.