Fighting on holiday should be banned. Seriously. At the beginning of a recent holiday, while wandering through Seattle’s Pike Place, we spotted a travel-worn couple, standing solemnly amongst their roller luggage. Her mouth agape, her eyes glaring. He’s staring at the pavement, fixated at the concrete, knowing that making eye contact could only mean sudden death.
Yikes. Who wants to be that couple? Travel companionship is a crapshoot, you get along at work, school or at the gym but break down on the beaches on Fiji or the streets of Bangkok. I once had a total communication breakdown with a friend in the middle of the Southern US. The Bible Belt has a way of making light of religious differences, and somewhere along the way…the tension was impossible to crack. I called my boyfriend from a darkened living room in Arkansas, late at night, blubbering like a baby. Hell is that kind of holiday.
Travel with the same person enough times, you fall into a pattern, become partners on the road. I’ll communicate and he will navigate. (I recently got lost in a Super 8 hotel and am in no way capable of leading any kind of expedition). Of course, no union is perfect, and conflict happens. What happens when you fight on the road? A menagerie of bickering, sulking, pouting, arm crossing and big huffing sighs…and whatever my husband is doing, see if I care.
Eventually the call of the road brings you back together, even if it’s in the spirit of neither person wanting to be left in the hotel room while the other person takes the rental car. Ben’s stubborn and I’m bossy; and it’s the equivalent of an ornery Christmas elf trying to push over a Redwood California.
I blame the astrological burden that is our Capricorn birthright. Practical? Humorous? Ambitious? Sure. Pessimistic, fatalistic, miserly and grudging? You betcha baby. Add these temperaments, throw in excessively close quarters, long distances, and a difference of opinion and you got yourself a real marital bloodbath. Tired, tense and mildly hungover, we set out to drive across a state and a half in one day. Now is the time for quiet, for personal space. Off to the separate corners of the boxing ring to have someone rub your shoulders and hammer you with encouragement while squirting water in your mouth. Only that person is usually your spouse–which makes the vibe all the more somber.
Not talking for nine hours–and not having the excuse of being in a coma is a near mathematical impossibility for me. I’m a certified chatterbox. If I can’t talk, then I’m going to sing. “You don’t need to take your hands off the steering to sing”, Benjamin mutters. Please. Of course I NEED my hands to sing. I’m a well caffeinated Celine Dion gunning it along the highway to Yah-Mo-B-There courtesy of the Yacht Rock station on Sirus Satellite Radio. What a cheesy musical buffet, give me Hall & Oates or give me death! This would be Ron Burgundy’s radio station of choice. Sassy saxophones, cheeky jazz flute, and the oh-so-funky synthesizers…nothing melts tension like Lionel Richie’s All Night Long.
In truth, he totally saved our marriage. Hopefully one day we will be blessed with twins, so that we may name them Lionel and Richie. Maybe we’ll have triplets, call the third one Nicole. Ben switched over to a 90’s station that was featuring Coolio’s Gangsta’s Paradise, which we rapped along to merrily. Marriage counselors should recommend AM radio and the open road to quarreling couples. With just a smidge of rippity rap on the side. I wonder if this is how Beyonce and Jay-Z settle an argument.
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