Time for a Break

Pat and me

He asked, “Did you get the lake behind us?”…  I replied, “Do I look stupid?” Maybe it’s break time?

Pat and I left Dublin on different flights. He headed to Traverse City, Michigan to visit his family while I boarded a flight to San Francisco for a writer’s conference. After six days in San Francisco, I flew on to Denver to visit our daughter for four days.

As I stood in Dublin airport, ten days alone sounded wonderful; the thought of crying as I waved goodbye never occurred to me.

You see, Pat and I live predominately in cities where we don’t know anyone. We arrived in Dublin after hiking the Wicklow Way for seven days. Seven eight-hour days of side by side hiking.

That’s our life—all us, all the time.

If you are reading this while sitting across from your life partner and thinking you want to become a full-time traveler, look up at that person right now.

When people ask me about adopting our lifestyle, they tend to focus on how to figure out where to go and where to stay once they get there or how to manage finances and handle the logistics of being without an address.

I encourage you to look at your partner and ask yourself a different question: Can you live with that person in near total seclusion without someday being sentenced to life in prison?

Everything else, you will figure out on your own.

Sheryl Sandberg wrote a book entitled Lean In. In this book, she talks about the role choosing the right partner plays in success. If you are thinking of becoming a full-time traveler, I hope you chose well.

I’m fortunate. Not only do I have a husband I love to spend time with, I have one that allows me to live a life that isn’t necessarily his first choice (although it’s growing on him!).

We enjoy the good days together. We struggle through the bad days together. We recover from jet lag together. We arrive in cities that we never visited and walk aimlessly trying to find our apartment together. During this aimless searching, he listens to my rants, and I watch in alarm as he tries (and fails) to be of help. Pat accepts that at these times, I will be much more Incredible Hulk than Bill Bixby. I accept that he isn’t great with directions. He stays calm; I don’t.

Pat and I are two very different people. I am the loud introvert; he is the quiet extrovert. Occasionally, we need time apart because we refuel in very different ways. He runs around and visits with everyone he ever knew. I sit in a dimly lit hotel room with The Tsar of Love and Techno in one hand and a bag of Fritos in the other. (The author, Anthony Marra, was speaking at our conference. I can’t explain the Fritos.)

At times, we simply need a break from each other. Often, it’s a deliberately planned day—or it might be ten. Over the last ten days, we talked three of four times, texted almost daily and had a really good time.

That time is ending. I’m writing this on the plane bound to Philadelphia where he is waiting.

I can’t wait to see him. Our apartment in Philly is like all of our apartments: small. Tomorrow when we get up, he’ll ask if I like one of his photos, and I’ll read aloud something I’ve written.

Tomorrow, we’ll be partners again. For now, I’m relishing the final hours of our break.




Categories: Ruminations

Tags: , , , , , ,

17 replies

  1. An interesting post, thank you. My Peter and I travel well together… both have our foibles… but I am the serene introvert who calms him when he takes the wrong turn on a huge roundabout and so on. He plans the best itineraries and always seeks out accommodation that he knows we will both enjoy. It’s a happy balance.

  2. And so if your destination is Philly and you will be here for a little while, I would be honored to meet you. As a devoted blog reader and one who envies your gusto and life choices, I would so love to get to talk to you over a cup of coffee or glass of wine. Let me know if that would work for you….
    Ellen Goldstein

  3. I loved this post, Julie. my husband and I are not full-timers like you two, but do a fair amount of traveling and are prepping to launch on a 6-week road trip. I’m sure we’ll have our, uh, awkward moments. Or moments of hatred and disgust or whatever. I addressed this topic in a blog a couple years ago, along with some other issues that arise with our privileged lives. http://ordinarylife-mk.blogspot.com/search?q=sweetness+and+light. So glad you decided to resume your blog.

  4. Perfect description of you and Pat – loud introvert, quiet extrovert – and how you compliment one another!!

  5. This post provides good food for thought. I think when some couples retire and then spend most of their time together is often a recipe for friction as they have no regular “job” to go to. I think men in particular often find this transition difficult when their job was all consuming leaving little time for other pursuits or interests in which they could transition their energies, post retirement.
    Diane and I seem to travel well together, but we are generally on the move which makes things easy, we must try the 3 month stay in a place where we do not know anyone to see how that works!
    I like your description, “loud introvert” it sounds like an oxymoron, but I get it. I think I am with Pat as a quiet extrovert, Diane is probably a quiet introvert, but she can surprise me.
    Good luck with your stay Stateside, and your prep for next year.

    • I’m the guy on the stage singing with the band because it pains me to make small talk with a stranger.

      I’m sure you guys would do great. But it is an element to consider. If two people can barely manage home, this life would be a poor match.

      I’m curious to hear where your three month test drive will be. It’s a world of great options!

      Len, you make a very important point. Pat has his photography; I have my writing. It gives us tremendous individual focus and collective focus. That’s so important. We treat it as seriously as we treated our careers.

  6. Great post Julie! It’s recognizable and as with certain documentaries it is heartening.


  1. Continued… Questions from new nomads – The World In Between

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