How is it, really?
That was the totally valid question my friend, Timon, asked about this road/climbing trip with someone I met only a few months ago. Blog stories so far reflect highlight, and a few lowlight moments along the way. Adam and I have been on the road for three weeks now. It’s not all glorious.
To put yourself out there on a blog without reservation is to either hammer yourself to a crucifix or hail yourself on a pedestal. Speak of accomplishments and you are berated for your arrogant conceit. Speak of downfalls and you receive dreaded pity. Speak the truth, or select parts of it and maybe, just maybe you are human.
How many people out there want to know that we went way to long without a shower? Or that one piece of plate size Navajo fry bread can plug you up for two days?
Perhaps you can relate to accidentally driving 50 miles too far on a flat tire. Not everyone is lucky enough to have a friend who can change it quickly without complaint while you wander off to seek out said fry bread.
How is it really? It’s like every thing you already have in your life, but magnified, intensified and observed by one other person. Great laughs at absurd moments. Forced laughs at the embarrassing ones. You get over those quickly though. We’ve all got issues- be they mental, physical, emotional. So what if you consume bag after bag of potato chips or go on a late night tangent rant about lost opportunity? And wouldn’t anyone feel nature’s call when looking up at a scary climb?
Need I explain myself?
What is absolutely crucial (in life in general, but acutely important on a road trip) is to know yourself well enough to voice your needs. I need a lot of alone time. No, I’m not getting enough. I just swallow that need and think about what it’s like to live in Hong Kong or Tokyo. I remind myself how lucky and grateful I am for what I do get to do.
I feel sheepish putting in a request to fulfill this need, even though I know it will be honored. Where does that programming come from? No matter, this is good as time as any to practice what three year olds know best. Ask for what you need, plain and simple. Real friends will respect you for it.
Travel with another soul is a tricky undertaking. I’ve had years of practice and get better at it each time. Each time it’s more fun. Ugly moments rear up and they are tests of our own soul. My patience has been pushed, and yes, I’ve snapped with biting words.
I see them hang in the air like a cartoon bubble of text. They float long enough for me to want to shove them back in my mouth. Swallowing their bitterness. But too late. I see the hurt on my friend’s face and have nothing to do but apologize and explain the root of the outburst from my own fears, misunderstanding or whatever.
Later we blame our badness on the long drive, our tiredness, our own weaknesses. We laugh it off.
It’s okay in the end.
In fact, it’s better than before.
We learn a snippet more about ourselves by being a mirror for each other.
The most tangible accomplishments of the trip appear to be the routes we’ve climbed (however abstract that may be to non climbers) but the answer to “How is it, really?” Well, it’s good, and then some.