We were married at 20 and within a couple of years we had car notes, a mortgage, and a baby on the way. Soon we’d have another baby on the way, we’d start a company, the kids would play soccer. We worked, eventually we went back to school, got graduate degrees, and before we knew it the kids were in college. We built or renovated 3 houses before quitting the coast after Hurricane Katrina and moving to Atlanta. Then parents got elderly and sick and needed care in the waning days of their lives.
That brings us to now.
It’s not fair to whine that we’ve never had time for ourselves, but we obviously have been busy with…life…the last 28 years. But now that we’re middle-aged empty-nesters, our passion for travel not only calls us to the road to see what there is to see (and calls us now because we’ll never be this young again), but also calls us to be together. Not to be just busy with life, but busy with seeing what there is to see (and this is key) together.
But how does a couple who’s been together for 28 years, together but preoccupied with kids, careers, school, parents, and more, suddenly go to spending all of our time together? Can there be too much togetherness?
There’s 2 parts to the answer. The first is that it’s largely this full time togetherness that is calling us to the road. We actually like being together. We miss one another when we’re apart. We share common interests. We talk, we debate, we argue. Some people call the full time travel thing vagabonding, and for us we like to stress the bonding part of vagabonding: we hope that this adventure, whether only for 6 months this year or a permanent thing for the foreseeable years, brings us closer together.
The other part of the answer is that which is shared by all travelers: exploring with a sense of wonder. Despite all the research and planning, we don’t know all the details of what will happen on our 6 month trip, but we do know that everywhere we go we’ll bring our curiosity and our desire to learn. Similarly we’re curious how to make being together a lot more work, and we are willing to learn how to make it work.
One time in Florence a young couple, just married, was seated at the table next to us. We congratulated them, and when they found out how long we had been married (25 years or so at the time) they asked us what the secret for staying married is. We replied, “You make a conscious effort at it each and every day.”
This doesn’t mean we don’t worry about occasionally wanting to strangle each other: even our friends at EverywhereOnce blogged about it recently. But with a couple of trial runs to New England under our belts and the schedule firming up, what minor fears we’ve had of being together “too much” are quickly diminishing.