Monday, April 1, 2013

Who are you and what have you done with my partner?

We wanted to share a bit about the origin of our most common, almost daily saying.  "Who are you and what have you done with my partner?"

Who are you....

As I reflect on the past nine months, I realize that Jess has changed.  Actually, we have both amazed each other at times with our ability to adapt to whatever the current situation demands.  Jess, however, has slowly migrated from what her family labeled as "messy Jessie" to "neat complete."  This has led me to ask myself (sometimes with great humor) "Who ARE you and WHAT have you done with my partner?"

In our home life, Jess cooked and I cleaned.  That was due mostly to the fact that I neither liked to cook nor wanted to learn, and Jess loved working in the kitchen, creating wonderful and tasty delights.  As we have traveled together, the same has been true, but because of limited spaces and unique circumstances, we have both found it necessary to assist each other in ways that are not familiar to either of us.  Jess's abilities to put things back where they belong, put lids onto bottles tightly, and keep her gear organized have become phenomenal.  Her prompting me to consider doing laundry when a clean change of clothes still exists has been beyond my comprehension.

Our travels together have only solidified my admiration for this person who means so much to me.  Jess has always been an amazing person, with a calm, confident inner strength that most of us can only dream about.  Her ability to handle multifaceted, difficult, sometimes unpleasant, tasks is mind boggling, as is her incredible ability to work with all types of people.  My role in her life has been one of consistency and stability.....a shoulder to cry on when necessary.  Now, as we share the challenges and rewards of our travels, she has adapted to the necessary, immediate consistency of time and place.  As I watch her rinse out coffee and tea mugs before she puts them away in the car, I smile because there will not be coffee stains on the carpet of the rental car, and the cups will be easily found in the morning as we make our travel beverages.

As I smile at the above descriptions, I reflect on how lucky I am to have found such an incredible person.  Her ability to adapt to my peculiar tendencies has been one of the main stays of our relationship, especially during our travels.  As we travel the world, I sincerely hope I can continuously ask "Who ARE you and WHAT have you done with my partner?" as we both learn, grow, and adapt together.

... and what have you done with my partner?

After more than 20 years of living with another, you come to believe that you know them intimately, thoroughly, and can predict their actions and reactions.  Such are the survival skills of partnership.  So you can imagine our surprise as we began a trip together in a space smaller than our closet and our most common phrase quickly became "Who are you and what have you done with Sally (or Jess)?

We surprised each other.  To best explain how Sally surprised me, one has to understand that for most of her life, she has survived and excelled through consistency.  Such a skill can also lead one to be a bit resistant to change, be a little risk averse, and be conservative.  Somehow, after over 60 years of practicing those traits, she has set them aside.  Sally embraced the idea and action of change as we sold or gave away all that was familiar and hit the road. She is always ready each day for a new place or setting, trying a new food or drink, using wifi, playing words with friends, and showing patience with me, even when I move all of her stuff around and forget to tell her where I put any of it.  She is quick to shrug off the small stuff and thoughtful in facing the big stuff.  And she takes risks.  She takes them emotionally, physically, mentally, and financially as we venture forward.  Life is not always easy as memory fails and hard won physical strength fades with age and such can frustrate.  Yet what really stands out is not what is lost, but what my partner gains each day as she faces a night in a new hostel, a steep and uncertain road, or an urban adventure with the keen curiosity of a child again.

I know that people wondered how we might get along given the tight quarters and intense nature of international travel together. Sure, we occasionally need to talk things through and explain what we need if tensions arise, but most days, in fact every day, I am delighted and honored to travel with someone who understands that to live is to grow.

Posted from Nimbin, NSW, Australia


  1. I love this post, it looks like this adventure has changed you both and I am sure for the positive and in many ways you may not even see right away. You both look so happy and alive that when I see your pictures I feel the same, it just jumps right off the page at me. Thank you for them!!

  2. Thanks, Cuz! I have been really enjoying your blog as well. Makes me wish for a kitchen as I travel!

  3. That would be tough on me for sure. :-)

  4. What a great post. I'm sure travelling with Chris would bring out all kinds of new traits in both of us. I never suspected you were untidy, Jess. Trying to think back to your office-- always seemed pretty neat to me. How wonderful that travelling together has helped you discover new dimensions in each other!

  5. Y'all (a formal greeting in our corner of the world), what a perfectly lovely tribute to each other, and your ability to adapt! I found myself laughing at the little things you both do, and the changes you've made. Your comments made me aware of how much grief I really do give Stuart on a daily basis. Unintentionally, of course! LOVE the pics!