I’d already snapped a photo and was putting my phone away when he said, “Oh God. You aren’t going to have your phone out all the way across Europe, are you?”
Understand, we won’t actually be in Europe for another 5 months, and I’d just taken a quick picture of my pasta salad so I could try to recreate it later; pasta shells, feta, black pepper, shredded basil, and tomatoes. No dressing. Simple. Delicious.
He exaggerated on, using his own phone as a prop, “Snap. I need to post this. Snap. I need to post this.” God, he’s unattractive when he mocks. I know he thinks the same about me. I wait for him to finish.
“Yes. My phone will be out all the way across Europe. So will my giant camera, probably even across the Middle East, too.” I add the last part because I know he does not think I should go to Israel. He thinks I should not because he does not want to go himself.
“In fact I’ll probably do many things, nay, all the things that annoy you so maybe now is a good time to start planning your own itinerary.”
When I dreamed this trip, I’d had in mind that it would be solo; a detail that was supported by his vehement push against it because Rome in the middle of winter will be miserable and cold. I’d explained that the end of March is not the middle of winter and the whole point of going was to be there for Easter. I can’t very well expect the Pope to reschedule Easter for more agreeable weather. It came as a surprise when he began saying the words, ‘we’ and ‘us’ when I discussed the trip.
Soon enough, I realized that getting to Rome could be much less expensive if I take the long way around – like I do. As such, last week I booked our flights into London and out of Paris. The outer walls of my odyssey are in place, with a nine day nebula in between, propped up by one pillar; I must be in Rome for Easter. The time for extending the pilgrimage into Israel does exist. We can use small, local airlines to maneuver us fairly inexpensively where we need to go around the region. And having him with me in Paris, in the spring, won’t suck.
“God, why are you always so quick to tell me to go do my own thing?” He rephrased that question twice more in rapid succession before I interrupted him to answer.
“As much as you don’t like the annoying things I do, I don’t like being reminded that I am annoying. If you tell me how much you don’t like me taking pictures across Europe, I will still take pictures across Europe, but be very aware with every click that I am bothering you. You will ruin an otherwise lovely experience.”
He defends himself, “My trip won’t be ruined by your taking pictures.”
But mine will be ruined by knowing it annoys him, and I’m not built for the force it would require to drive this dull point home.
A long time ago, Rilke sold me on this idea that each partner appoints the other to be the guardian of his solitude, and this month we celebrate the third anniversary of taking our vows to remain separate, but together. We faithfully work to iron out the wrinkles in how such a union can actually work in practice. But let me tell you this; it hasn’t been easy in matters of travel.
We will meet for lunch twenty times again, just as we did today, before we leave. With a little luck and a lot of hard diplomacy, we’ll have it all figured out by then. In the meanwhile, I need to brush up on my French, learn a little Italian, and maybe make some of that pasta salad.