Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Foremath and Courage

I have a travel secret, maybe even a life secret: courage isn't an absence of fear but rather action in the face of fear.

I was nervous and Flounder was too in the days leading up to our three-month Europe/Asia trip. Many would say we had reason, as beyond the first two nights couchsurfing in Zurich we had nothing planned, but this is my preferred mode of travel and Flounder is an intrepid, enthusiastic traveler. Still, I was feeling it: washing machine stomach, pitter patter heart. I was also picking fights with Flounder above our usual amiable level of bickering.

In spite of this anxiety, we were forging ahead with our unplanned trip, our cumulus of tantalizing ideas and places.

We were each preparing for the trip in our own way. For Flounder, this meant hours of research, comparing products, testing itineraries. For me, this meant ignoring our impending departure and refusing to make plans.

Somehow between the two of us (Flounder did most of the work!) we packed our bags at 11:00 p.m. the night before our flight. Take a peek inside our bags: Flounder keeps his toiletries in a specially designed bag, one which has numerous compartments, unzips without spilling their contents, and hangs on a bathroom or shower door. I have a worn and dirty plastic bag (standard flimsy grocery type) filled with my makeup, hair bands, deodorant, toothbrush and toothpaste--all knocking around loosely. (Flounder says, "I bought her a makeup bag so at least that is in a zippered case.") Flounder has a compartmentalized medicine kit. I, again, have a plastic bag.

And these differences between us are the source of some of my anxiety. What if our traveling styles are too different to reconcile? What if hitchhiking, couchsurfing, and volunteering our way from Zurich to Azerbaijan puts an irrevocable strain on our relationship? Why risk it?

The answer is simple. Travel is a necessity for us both, therefore any long-term partner must also be a travel companion.

I have faith--faith nervous like a rickety, tiny dog--that we will be good travel companions, that we can take this relationship on the road. Because those difference between us? They also work to our advantage. I'll make sure we don't waste a Euro on a tram when we can walk instead and Flounder will bring the malaria medicine in case an errant mosquito finds us. I'll estimate the time it will take us to wake up, get ready, pack, and get to the train station while Flounder will pack a snack for me and remind us both to wear sunscreen.

And so, back to the secret of courage. We are facing three months on a changing, amorphous road and we are nervous, but still forging ahead. Into this adventure, this relationship, this life.


  1. Rock on, y'all! I'm sure this will be a trip you'll both reference fondly for the rest of your lives. Be well. : - )

  2. Love this reflective post.

    The simple act of recognizing and acknowledging your different approaches to this journey is a big step all on its own. If you can step back enough to get this perspective on yourselves, your relationship, and your ambitious travel plans, then I'm sure the road ahead will be fine (not to mention absurdly awesome) for you both.

    Safe travels and keep blogging! I love the updates!

    (also: it sounds like Flounder packs *exactly* like Vince. The meticulousness... try not to strangle him. ;)

  3. Great post, Sarah and Flounder! I love the dog simile! I can understand your nervousness, I've never traveled with my boyfriend and I'm sure I'll feel the same way!! I commend you on your bravery ;) Keep the posts and pictures coming. I'm having enough Sarah withdrawal as it is!

  4. you both are very sweet. thanks for keeping in touch in such an intimate way. love you.

  5. I have total faith in the two of you as a team! You guys balance one another out where it's important. Sending you guys love from California!

    xo, Dolly


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