Marriage, like travel, is a journey. Charting your destination, off you go.
“In life, it’s not where you go, it’s who you travel with.” – Charles Schulz
On this day, almost three and half decades ago, the two of us became one. Not long after our vows were said, we loaded up my little four-cylinder Mustang and headed west to Arizona, our first move for the Army.
I had zero experience with the military, and that road trip would be the first of many. Leaving on a beautiful fall day, we said our tearful goodbyes to our parents and siblings, and we were on our way.
Our journey had begun.
“Every mountain top is within reach if you just keep climbing.” – Barry Finlay
We had a great time in that little car, exploring places we’d never been. There were some amazing sights to see along the way, such as the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, MO. We drove what seemed to be endless hours through the flat cornfields of Kansas. The Rocky Mountains were a beautiful sight to behold, as I had never seen them before. It was a great adventure, even though we experienced road closures, scary heights through the mountains, and white-knuckled hair-pin turns.
After our stint in Arizona, we headed back to the Midwest, chasing a massive winter storm that was crippling a decent portion of the country. Driving down a mountain interstate in New Mexico, we wondered why we saw so many brake lights. As we spun around on black ice, and faced oncoming traffic, we quickly learned the reason.
After catching our collective breath, we crept up to exit the highway as soon as we could. Seeking shelter, we stayed at the nearest hotel we could find, learning later it was a good call to make. The interstate ended up being shut down due to the weather.
Over the course of 30 plus years, we took road trips for family vacations, for Army and moves, and in foreign lands. I was a wee bit nervous driving on the “wrong side of the road” in England, and let’s just say traveling through Naples and the Amalfi Coast was the event of a lifetime.
I like to compare our marriage journey as to taking a road trip. We have had our share of ups and downs – like passing through the mountains. Sometimes it is exhilarating, and sometimes it is terrifying. Yet, once safely down the mountain, we could look at each other and say, “We did it!”
Some trips, like deployments, are long and lonely, such as going hours without seeing another car while trekking through the desert. It is flat, it is different, and even though it is possible to see what lies ahead, it is still unnerving.
Seasonal trips, such as everyday life, lets us enjoy seeing fall colors while heading to a cider mill or embracing the new growth of buds and blossoms in the spring. However, taking that same path, during the hard times in life, can be terrifying, like driving in a blizzard the dead of winter.
Yes, we have traveled down some pretty scary roads. Yet, we’ve definitely had our share of fun. We have been approached by naysayers thinking we were crazy to travel to unknown destinations and yet, encounter free-spirits saying, “Go for it.”
“Travel opens your heart, broadens your mind and fills your life with stories to tell.” – Paula Bendfeldt
We’ve driven down many ice-packed roads, fearful of spinning out of control. There were bumpy paths that jostled our innards. There were roads covered in dense fog where we thought we’d land in a ditch. We always did our best to be prepared, keeping up on maintenance, even if we were running low on gas.
While we felt the isolation of desert roads, we also felt the claustrophobia of crowded expressways. We came across roadblocks and detours. Yet, we also experienced the joy of freshly paved lanes and the exhilaration of watching the sun rise to meet us on our path.
We now know the wisdom of asking for directions, and even better, being asked for directions. We’ve taken stupid risks, like being careless. Yet, experience taught us that those chances are simply not worth taking.
We have had some of our best conversations while being alone in the car.
We have been truly blessed that in our marriage and on our road trips; we have had more to celebrate than to grieve. And that traveling as a team makes the journey an experience of a lifetime.
“Never go on trips with anyone you do not love.” – Ernest Hemingway
We may no longer be the kids that headed out to the great unknown – physically and metaphorically – back in 1983. Our knees may ache and we may don our reading glasses and we won’t drink coffee after 3 p.m.
“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:21
But, there is absolutely no one else on this earth that I’d rather travel with – physically and metaphorically – as we continue on our journey. I treasure each trip and memory we make along the way. Happy anniversary, my love! It’s been a beautiful, crazy, helluva ride!
© Lynne Cobb – August 2017
Do you think marriage is like a road trip? Share your experience in the comment section.
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