Monday, August 24, 2015

Travel and Independence and Getting On. . . The Anniversary Edition . . .

I have to admit that I’ve written and rewritten this post, deleted it and begun it again. I’ve wondered if there is really anything significant here or whether I’d be better off just dropping the whole idea. The connection between a difference between the way I travel with my husband and the way I travel without him and a parallel difference between the way he cycles on his own confidently and the way I, well, am working up to some confidence . . . . is it too spurious a connection? Am I connecting the dots for anyone out there to understand? Should I just stop?  

And yet, I know there’s something here, and I know I need to get it out of my system, and hey, you can all just click yourselves to another blog if you’re bored or fed up. Right? 

So, having decided to persevere, but frustrated about how to get closer to what’s bugging me, I decided I’d try these parallel approaches.  I’ve interrupted the more straightforward, linear development of what I’m trying to say (in regular font) with vignettes that sketch (in italics) a number of moments that capture something of my (foolish but real) anxieties and tensions around the cycling. I beg your patient indulgence. Here goes:
These photos were all taken at a delightful rest stop along the Central Valley Greenway -- I love these sculptural bike racks!




When I look back at what I’ve written over my first two posts in this little series, and when I look at the richness of reader responses to them, I see that I may have inadvertently scattered a red herring or two.  My long approach, the attempt to sketch a lifetime of travel before presenting my current dilemma, seems to have suggested that I’m regretting, or trying to make up for opportunities lost through early marriage and child-rearing. Building up, apparently, to my timidity about cycling around Vancouver on my own, it’s no wonder that the posts elicit a certain amount of “Oh, just get on the damn bike already.”

 I sat in the apartment living-room, in the dawn light, the traffic just barely yawning on the street just below us. Paul slept in the bedroom, behind the door I’d closed as I tiptoed out earlier, and he’d still be sleeping as that traffic roused itself to morning rush-hour intensity over the next two hours, as the sun rose eagerly into another hot summer day. Meanwhile, our bikes also slumbered on the small concrete balcony that adjoined bedroom and livingroom. Even if I could muster the determination and, apparently, courage required to get myself out for a solo cycle, wrestling my bike inside would wake even the most committed sleeper. His bike was the most accessible of our two, both snuggled against the wall of the building. It would have to be shifted first before I could try to heft mine over the slight ledge between balcony and living room. And even if I got it inside, and even if I then got dressed and got it outside, oh, the foolish worries that have so far kept me from riding it on my own through the city streets. So I sat in the apartment living-room, in the dawn light, with an inner chorus of anxiety and frustration and impatience with my limitations growing noisier in tandem with the morning traffic.

Instead, what I had hoped to do in those two posts was to indicate a lifetime of travel competence combined with a personality that’s inclined to anticipate problems and to second-guess decisions. (A personality, also, that is slightly fearful, physically – High places and high speeds and demands for balance make me uncomfortable.)  I also needed to outline the difference between the solo traveling I’ve done and the travel with my husband. I needed to do so not because I regret that I haven’t done more traveling on my own.


                It was my idea, last fall, to buy bikes for the condo. My limitations as a cyclist might be suggested by my decided preference for a “girl’s bike” – it’s not just the tightness in my hips that constrains me from throwing that leg over a higher bar, but a fearfulness about loss of balance and also, I think, a long-engrained fear of “doing it wrong” and looking foolish. I’m undeniably fit, damn it! I ran a marathon last year, do yoga a few times a week, have enough flexibility and strength and endurance that I should be confident about riding a bike (and I ride one to the boat, daily, over a kilometer of dirt road on our little island), but I’m not.  Nor does my longstanding knowledge of the city as both driver and pedestrian give me the confidence it should about routes and street behaviour. I often feel clumsy and exposed pedaling across an intersection from a dead stop when the light turns green. I feel similarly visible in my potential wobbliness when I work my way to the left lane for a turn across traffic, my left arm awkwardly extended, vulnerable.
Nevertheless, I wanted us to get bikes and take advantages of the city’s cycling paths, and I’m so glad we did. It’s been a great activity for us as a couple, and it’s added an element of cross-training to my fitness that’s undeniably more fun than solo running.


Of course, we all know what Freud said about denial, but I have done a fair bit of travel independent of my husband:  getaway weekends back “down South” from the small northern city we lived in when our kids were small, Paul staying behind to manage the domestics; the trip I made in my late 30s, to France; academic conferences I attended  in Texas, California, numerous Canadian cities, England;  the occasional girlfriend and sister weekends to nearby cities.

Someday soon, though, I will position my bike by the door before I go to bed. I’ll have my clothes laid out next to it, so that when I wake hours earlier than my husband, I can ease myself out of bed, tiptoe out of our room, close the door silently behind me, dress quickly, and coax my bike down our hallway, jackknife it into the elevator, walk it through the concrete parking basement, step heavily on the cord that opens the parking gate, and finally mount the bike as the automatic gate lowers behind me, and I decide whether to go right or left down the lane. I will finally risk making stupid errors like forgetting to signal my turn and having drivers honk at me. I will take the chance that when I turn sharply into a hill steeper than I’d expected I may have to dismount and walk the bike – I suspect the humiliation will not be as total and obliterating as it has loomed in my imagination. I will, perhaps, follow the “wrong” route, and then realize, perhaps even with some joy and a sense of liberation, that this is just a different route. There is no wrong. My husband learned this long ago. He’s been sharing his city-cycling confidence with me for months now. It’s time for me to develop some of my own.

I’ve also tackled new challenges independently of Paul, heading to grad school in my early 40s (having finally completed my B.A. at 42!) being the prime example.  So while this “lady [might appear to] protest too much,” I want to say emphatically that I don’t regret any opportunities possibly lost to early marriage and child-rearing.


                Up ahead, I see Paul arrive at the intersection just as the light turns yellow. Instead of stopping, he accelerates through. On an earlier ride, I followed his example, at much more risk because of being behind, the light clearly turning red as I pedaled through it, thinking cranky thoughts about my leader. This time, a bit wiser, a bit more confident, I decide to stop, knowing that I’m perfectly capable of crossing the road on the next green light all by my grown-up self. Still, I watch his back moving away from me and hope he’ll notice he’s lost me. Or do I mean I hope he’ll notice that I’m lost? Or do I really hope he’ll notice that while I once would have felt lost, abandoned at the light, I’m finding myself here. I once might have sulked, just a little, or even a lot, at his not waiting. I’m beginning to realize that his riding ahead comes not only from a confidence in his own skills but also from confidence in mine. Is it ridiculous that I’m only just finding and realizing at 62? Or is it glorious that such discoveries can still exist at this late age?

I want to say that emphatically today, in particular, because today is the 41st anniversary of the day Paul and I pledged our troth to traveling together.

                Although I’ve been cycling faster and further and more confidently lately, I still have moments when I feel awkward and foolish in my biking manoeuvres, mainly at intersections involving cars and other cyclists. Sometimes my awkwardness, I’m not just embarrassed but rather ashamed to say, leaves me feeling exposed and resentful and I’ve been known to direct that tangle of feelings at Paul. I blame him for a mistake I made or a weakness I think I displayed. He didn’t give me enough warning, for example, that we were going to stop or start or turn.  If we’d stopped for that water break I didn’t tell him I wanted, I wouldn’t have been so tired going up that hill. He knows I don’t like going too fast down a hill – why did he have to pick that route?!
                A few weeks ago, though, cycling  on a bike route separated from the main traffic  only by a line painted on the road, I looked ahead to where Paul coasted happily down the gentle hill. To my alarm, he swiveled ‘round on his saddle to check my progress, wanting to make sure I felt comfortable with the pace and the grade and the traffic.  And while he was doing so, of course, he couldn’t see what he was coasting toward, what car might be backing out of a driveway he hadn’t noticed, what driver might be opening the door of his parked car right into my dear husband’s bike, what . . . oh, I don’t know, any number of potential dangers ahead that he wasn’t watching for because I’d intimated that I needed him to look after me. I yelled at him to turn around and look at the road, shouted “I’m fine, I can manage! Really! Keep yourself safe!” We had an extended chat about this when we got home, and my commitment now is to demonstrate to both of us that I am capable and confident on my bike, in the city – occasionally, if I don’t feel confident about a route, I will have to say so and then either convince him to pick an easier or safer route or make my own way. It’s a process, and I’m guessing I’m going to have a setback or two, but the training wheels are off, finally. . .
As he so often must, Paul waits. . . and waits. . . and waits. . . as I take photos for the blog. Such a patient man!


And I know that the compromises have been significant, both for a man who doesn’t think twice about pedaling out to explore new bike paths or finding his way through a new city, and for the woman who tends to think twice about, oh, so many things in this life.  Yes, I see more of my old competencies surface again when I travel with someone else, but traveling with me has trimmed Paul’s sails as well: most notably, he no longer enjoys the luxury (in his eyes) of arriving at an airport only an hour before an international flight (and yes, there’s a long and painful story about how that lesson was learned, on our return from Paris, our 3rd or 4th trip).  
               

I’m hoping that we’ll have another 20 years together, at least – imagine, 60 years of marriage! I want those to be rich years in which our love and partnership continue to enhance both our lives.  In my next post in this little series,  I hope to conclude my thinking on Travel and Independence and Getting On by articulating how my trip to my Paris with my sister this past spring will change how I travel with my husband from now on, beginning when we land at Charles de Gaulle airport in just over a week.   We’ve been very compatible, mutually supportive travel companions throughout our 42 years together,  but  as I join him in retirement, there are some (gendered? personality-driven?) domestic politics that can (and have, almost every single trip!) led to squabbles in Le Jardin du Luxembourg and stormy silences at romantic café terraces. So Ive actually proposed a little list, a contract well both agree to, and as foolish as it might seem, Im going to share it with you before we head off to France and Italy where well give it the sidewalk test. But thats for next time, and this post has gone on far too long already. Now I have a bottle of bubbly to uncork with someone special Happy 41st, my love! Keep your eyes on the road ahead. Well travel it together!

47 comments:

  1. First things first: happy anniversary!
    As to your cycling dilemma: I was very sorry to read that a person as experienced, competent and thoughtful as you are should feel this insecurity. Of course, feeling vulnerable isn't an irrational fear at all. As a cyclist you depend on the attention and fairness of drivers who are much better protected than you are. But in your case much more seems to be mixed up with this.
    Well then - learning never ends, and perhaps cycling-alone-and enjoying-it is on your personal learning list. Trying to go out by yourself, without the need to keep up with anybody and without the feeling that somebody may be held up by you, going just as far as you like and going back whenever you feel like it, you may find out more precisely what it is that you find so difficult. Good luck!

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    1. Thanks, Eleonore. We're complicated creatures, aren't we? The reality is that at least 80% of my time on the bike is free from the anxieties, but there's a crucial core percentage that reflects a personality with some anxieties and insecurities I've tried to push past most of my life. Thank goodness for the 80+% that keeps me going! ;-)

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  2. Happy anniversary! I jammed on the brakes the first time out on my pretty "girl" bike and have not been out since! I am wary on the bike and that is just my nature. You are right that learning never ends and city cycling is dependent on your skill and fitness and the skill of the nearby motorists. I think that the contract is a good way to manage the inevitable squabbles.

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    1. Thanks Mme. Again, we seem to have much in common. Given how much and how well you travel independently, many might be surprised that you're wary on a bike. But our essential natures are tough to overcome. . . and we can't push past all the boundaries. We pick the ones that make the most sense for our lives and cycling might not matter that much to you. Plenty of other challenges, aren't there?!

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  3. Happy Anniversary!! Your post resonates with me..I could have written it..I've traveled all over the world and in general a very confident person, but I too have a fear of falling, and I actually have 2 or 3 times on the bike..while my daredevil husband zooms ahead through lights..The first time I followed him blindly and was almost hit, so now I refuse to cross unless I feel it's safe..I had to laugh as I also yell warnings at him or mutter bad words:) BUT.... I keep trying and riding, I don't want to not do something I fear..I always tell myself " do the thing you think you cannot do"..Happy travels!Coco

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    1. Coco, thank you so much. I've come so close to deleting this post several times, thinking it might be too idiosyncratic to resonate with anyone. It makes the work of writing worthwhile to know you can recognize some of your experience in my words. I think we should give ourselves a big round of applause for persisting beyond our fear, all the way to (sometimes surprised) enjoyment. "Do the thing you think you cannot do" -- a good motto to try living by, when we muster the courage and energy!

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  4. Dear Frances, happy,happy anniversary to you and your husband! And a lot more to come!
    I enjoyed reading your post,more than once. And I think that you solved your puzzle very good by yourself!
    You are an intelectual who wants to think about things,to revolve,to see things from all sides,so whats wrong with that? Take a map, plan in it your head,than go step by step. You are more than good bicyclist ( and you are careful,it is very important!),you only don't feel comfortable when with the champion.You feel to skip a lot of steps,and you are a person who need to go all grades before a degree! I find it perfect,and am sure that your husband will be proud of you when you explain to him that you have to have more alone practice to catch the master of the game!
    I completely understand how it is when you have to jump without first learn to walk. Been there..... I feel forced in these situations,and love or not love,don't feel good in my skin ( I print those google maps directions,too! I always have to know how many metres there is to walk because of MS :-))
    Early marriage and children,late marriage...no rules! I don't think you regret anything or there was something to regret at all
    How wonderful to learn something about oneself after a lot of years! I like and wonder such special moments!
    So,everything is great! Hope you have some more bubbles!
    Dottoressa

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    1. Thanks so much, Dottoressa. I'm so enjoying your presence in these conversations. Yes, my approach tends to be intellectual and self-reflexive to a fault. Not at all my poor husband's way, but he claims to enjoy my company through life so far (thank goodness!) and I his, despite our differences.
      I'm going to write a bit, next post, about what a difference Google maps and other technologies have made to travel, especially to independent travel -- I never thought about the difference for someone with MS or other physical challenges, but this must be a great boon.
      Now to the bubbles -- I should be adding peach liqueur for Bellinis in preparation for Italy, shouldn't I? Hope your week has begun well.

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    2. If you don't have fresh peaches ( mix the pulp and sieve) peach liqueur would be just fine ( than maybe a less than one third). Cheers :-)!
      Dottoressa

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  5. I think you should systematically drink Prosecco in preparation just because it is so brilliant and cheering. And I sympathise with the trepidation in the face of heights, balance and great speed - most unnerving. I like the way you two match - one carefree, one less so. I rarely ever walk alongside my husband anywhere as he walks faster and I mooch. But we get there in the end. Perhaps that is the thing to hold onto during all this?

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    1. I concur entirely about the Prosecco!

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    2. Oh, you two! If you absolutely insist, I suppose I'll give the Prosecco a try!
      And yes, Annie, getting there in the end . . . ;-)

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  6. Huge happy anniversary congratulations to you both.
    I identify with so much in this post re: the cycling. mr. ebb is a"very proficient " cyclist who cycles long distances just because they are there whereas I cycle to get from a to b. It is somewhat daunting in traffic, yes. And life is a bit too busy right now to nip out on a bike for me (working on this one). As for the independent travel - working on it, and by independent I'm meaning totally solo and not planning trips for/with my wee guy, which I've been doing ever since he was 10 months old. Why is the solo thing more difficult for me to visualize? I think partly because I have to arrange the domestic at-home stuff in addition to my own gallivanting? Certainly slows this gal down. Again, working on it!

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    1. I think you're likely to find independent travel easy -- and exhilarating -- when you get a chance, but it does take huge amounts of energy to work out the domestic maintenance enough to feel at all comfortable being away. Good luck!

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  7. Happy Anniversary! Many more of them to come I am sure.

    Good luck with your cycling dilemma and I hope you come to some sort of resolution you are happy with, whatever it may be.

    I was interested in what you were saying regarding gender differences and I identify with a lot of that but am stubborn about making my own choices as far as possible when we do things together. When it comes to sailing though, I have to take a back seat as it's his area of expertise and not mine and we can find outselves in dangerous conditions at times, which I do not like at all!

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    1. I think that kind of stubbornness is healthy, although sometimes I wonder if it's necessary to expend so much energy on it. I rather envy my daughters who didn't feel they needed to learn how to drive the boat, for example, or who don't mind at all that their husband drives the car and they play passenger -- they seem to be quite confident that they've already proved their independence and equality and don't do things they don't enjoy just to prove a feminist point. . . (not that they're not feminists, 'cause they absolutely are!)

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  8. I cycled for many years with a friend who rode in front and never watched out for me. I tried to keep up but I also learned over time to keep to my own pace and my own set of rules for safety. I often felt pissed off and then went cycling on my own, which I grew to love. A deer stopped right in front of me once on the way back from Deep Cove!
    And hard as I would try, I would always make cycling mistakes, misjudge a light, forget a hand-signal while watching out for something. That was normal, same as it is for drivers of cars no matter how hard we try to be perfect. I hope you find your strong happy path. It seems like you're on it. Apologies, helmets, and bicycle bells, always great companions.
    Happy Anniversary to you and Pater!! What a loving family you've created in this time together.

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    1. Ah well, I'm pretty decent at apologizing, at least ;-)
      Thanks for the anniversary wishes -- it's pretty amazing to think that we built a family together (makes me wonder why I fuss over a bike ride!!)

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  9. This post was so interesting to me, as in my family, these roles are reversed. I want to arrive at the airport shortly before boarding begins, my husband once got me to the airport in Prague before it opened in the morning for an 8 a.m. flight. I have been married 25 years, and find that I am growing more at ease with our differing approaches to travel. We enjoy the destination so much together that we have each learned to encourage the other towards more prudent behavior(his contribution to me) and a more relaxed demeanor (my contribution to him). Life is a journey- we should still be changing, stretching, and learning new things. Go easy on yourself- we are all imperfect and change is always hard! Sounds like you both have a good thing going.

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    1. Well, my husband has been known to get to the airport fifteen minutes before a flight and be really frustrated that he could see the plane just sitting there (at a small local airport) but wasn't allowed past the (closed!) gate. In his mind, he was clearly still "on time" (he then missed the connecting international flight -- for an important presentation). Near the end of the long story I refer to above, we got to the check-in counter at Charles De Gaulle 45 minutes before a flight -- security still had to be cleared. . . That one was stressful. But generally, yes, I think that we complement each other, and I hope that once we change and stretch a bit more on this next trip, our travel together will be even better. Here's to imperfection and change! Thank you!

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  10. How blessed you are to have had 41 years together - and I'm sure you will enjoy the next 20 PLUS even more for the constancy and the joy of leisure. And I didn't realize that you got your BA at 42. That's amazing! You've had so many lives...

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    1. Must have been 41, actually (just redone the math) -- I dropped out in 2nd year, first time 'round and took forever adding courses afterward. Longest undergrad ever!

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  11. I don't like cycling in city traffic either. You really are at the mercy of the drivers. I think you can be an independent and capable person and still have some things you aren't comfortable with, or aren't comfortable doing on your own.

    If you are too tired to make Bellinis, have a glass of Prosecco and eat a ripe peach...best done outdoors,,,but beware of wasps!

    Happiest of anniversaries to you and Pater.

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    1. Vancouver's got a wonderful network of reasonably safe bike paths now, and I love riding on those, but sometimes you just have to get in there with the cars and that's always a bit freaky.
      I love your version of a Bellini and I think I could manage the mixology involved! ;-)

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  12. A very, very happy anniversary! And, you know, at least you don't hate cycling like I do:). Most uncomfortable activity I can imagine that is supposed to be fun...

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    1. Thanks! Too funny about the cycling hatred. I'm a bit envious of the purity of that, truth be told! ;-)

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  13. This has nothing with independence,but has with Rome. Remember Lisa's gorgeous navy blue maxi Max Mara dress? They have some side lines,I mentioned Marella,and there are Weekend Max Mara,Max&co,Sportmax ( and bigger size lines as Marina Rinaldi and Persona). Maybe you would like to look their web sites. They are good quality and beautiful and not so expensive like Prada f.e.
    Just crossed my mind :-)
    Dottoressa

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    1. I did buy a dress at MaxMara in Paris a few years for my daughter's wedding, and I was surprised at how reasonable the prices were -- and the service was superlative. I love Lisa's maxi, and I'll make a point of checking the shop in Rome -- thanks for the encouragement!

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  14. Congratulations on your 41st anniversary! Your post echoes a bit of what's been simmering in my mind lately - pushing through fear. Compromise because of love. Inter-dependence in relationships.

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    1. I pushed publish before I finished - I love the sentence about learning new things about oneself and each other even after 41 years! Yes. Do we ever really know someone? Even if we think we do, we are always changing and so is the other.

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    2. It's surprising how much there still is to discover, just when you think you know a partner inside out, right?
      And yes, you get what I'm talking about, probably because of the similar long-term commitment -- it's what lets me do much of what I do but there's also an inter-dependence that has to be carefully balanced against a temptation to dependence.

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  15. Happy 41st -- that's quite a milestone.

    My husband and I have quite different traveling styles. I like to get to the airport early and plan for the things I'd like to do and see. He's the last one on board and waits to see what looks interesting. With no family background in traveling he was more hesitant and careful at first (like your bicycle riding), but as we've gone more places he may now be the more adventurous one. I'm deterred by a health condition that strictly limits my diet, and while I can't change the diet, I think I can be less focused on planning and just eat some strange meals if that is where we end up. I see many analogies between the bike riding and traveling -- great post.
    Lynn

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    1. Thanks, Lynn. Some connections here to what Lorrie is stressing above -- the changes that even long-time partners notice in each other over time. Keeps it all fresh, right? I've got areas where I need to work on my flexibility and let go a bit as well. . .

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  16. Finally I'm catching up with you here, having got myself back online and up to speed. And clearly congratulations are in order, 41 years together, what a joyous thing to be celebrating. I too married aged 21 and raised kids young, and I'd be lying if I said I had no regrets, but I don't have many and the ones I have don't matter. We're almost a decade away yet from our 41 years though. But already the cycling you describe is not possible for me due to rheumatoid arthritis. I understand, I think, the source of your discombobulation - it's hardly unreasonable to be concerned about a genuine threat, but equally it's right that you should seek to keep it in proportion - but the issues you're struggling with sound like something of a luxury to me personally. That said we must all negotiate a position between what's possible and what we're comfortable with that works for our current situation and clearly you are doing that. Long may you be healthy enough to travel anywhere you wish x

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    1. I take your point -- the issues are petty ones compared to struggles many others face. But they loom particularly large when I'm in a low patch and the self-talk can get harsh. So when I'm out of those patches, I try to think through a bit what really is bothering me. It's not really about the bike, you see, but about my personality in this particular relationship and the way this relationship will, or won't, be changing as we share so much more space and time in our retirement. Honestly, part of me is a bit terrified about this, even as I recognize that it's a privilege to have got here at all. And I sincerely hope that articulating my concerns here, trying to puzzle them through, doesn't seem too much like rubbing my good fortune/health in the face of those struggling through darker days. Thanks for closing with your generous wish -- I would hope for you the strength to continue in your many wonderfully creative pursuits, from which so many of us benefit.

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    2. No criticism was meant m'dear, just envy on my part. And I do understand that in part the space you are negotiating is within your relationship. I think what was in my head but that I failed to articulate is that often as we age these negotiation's are fairly constant, as we adapt to the ongoing and often unpredictable effects of ageing/time passing on our bodies and our circumstances.

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    3. Thanks, Annie. I didn't see you as critical (I don't read you that way, your blog and your comments here always present a thoughtful, articulate, intelligent, and generous spirit), but your comment triggered my (always active) inner critic. I do worry about fussing so about what's really a good problem to have. . . Three words stand out in your comment, it strikes me: Negotiating, adapt, unpredictable. . . That's life, as they say!
      And thanks for coming back to reassure me -- so kind of you.

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  17. I can't comment on the cycling , I never mastered that , but I can see you might wonder about having ' twice as much husband on half as much salary ' . I suppose if you both just sit slumped on the sofa everyday then you could go crazy but you won't be doing that . I've actually found it the past part of our lives together . We wander off to follow our own interests but the together part is still the best . There's plenty to say even after 40 plus years ( I was a child bride too )
    Wendy in York

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    1. Wendy, I should not have been drinking my morning cuppa when I read this. Chortling and inadvertent snorting of hot liquid ensued when I read "twice as much husband on half as much salary"! Yes, this, I think, is at the heart of my going on and on. I mean, the summer has been fine together, but we're in it for good now and what if we irritate the heck out of each other. . . So thank you for the understanding and the reassurance. (and let's hear it for the child brides! ;-)

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    2. Oh believe me, I hear you both! Just haven't been able to express this on my own rather superficial/ safe blog, so thank you for doing it for me.

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    3. Your blog is absolutely lovely -- I was very happy to find it and I would never call it either superficial or safe! "Useful or Beautiful," simplicity has its own depth and risk.

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  18. Sorry , supposed to say the best part
    Wendy

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  19. Happy Anniversary, Belated though these wishes may be.

    Your post resonates deeply, and does not seem at all idiosyncratic. It captures much of my own struggles with travel alone, and with renewing my own relationship with my bicycle, long cast off to the sidelines since my spouse did not ride.

    I think for those of us with reflective natures, that sense of insecurity, of knowledge of our fears and weaknesses, is always there, no matter how great our competence. Rather than making us weaker however, I think this is a source of strength, driving us forward, and eventually allowing us to do more, and achieve more,.

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    1. Damn our reflective natures, no?! ;-) I mean, sometimes I value mine, but sometimes it's just a bit of a burden. But okay, in the end it does mean I figure it out and move on with some decent insight. The examined life . . . totally worth living!

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  20. So interesting. I decided years ago that I don't enjoy cycling so I don't do it. I too have done a lot of independent travel and I am struggling a little with the sense that the changes of recent years have shifted the balance between us to greater dependence on my part. I'm honestly not sure how much this matters but my persisting very faint discomfort probably should be listened to. My particular dependence is in relation to driving. Now I like driving but for the last year we have driven a round trip of six hundred miles every week so as to spend time with my father. If we do the whole thing in about thirty six hours it works well for my dad and allows us to continue to live something like our normal life, squeezed and sometimes exhausted but full and interesting and rewarding. The price of that is to be dependent on Ian to do the driving. I simply can't drive that far in that time and feel safe and competent as a driver. It is an example of something which makes clear that Ian is physically stronger and fitter than I am. And yet it is wonderful if him to share my fathers decline with me so completely and a vital part of making life work while dad undergoes his long slow journey into total helplessness and death. Perhaps I need to spend some of my time at home developing my own physical strength? Certainly there is a need for some form of rebalancing. Thank you for writing something that has made me take my own issue out of the box and hold it up to the light! Still don't know what to do with it but it's a start!

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    1. Okay, this is precisely the kind of thing I'm fussing about. On the one hand, it's just such a luxury to have my partner's strength to rely on -- and I know that so far, overall, our strengths are balanced, and I do pretty well, am still pretty independent. But sometimes I feel frustrated at the way aging is giving new life to gender boundaries or roles or whatever that I thought I'd toppled long ago. Like you, I'm not entirely sure what to do with all this -- a friend's husband died suddenly last week, 59, and my fussing seems precious and foolish and perhaps even selfishly thoughtless in that context. On the other hand, the same context could read like a cautionary tale. Don't want to be fear-driven, though, nor to borrow trouble, but mindful is good, no? For the time being, I'm so glad you've got Ian to do that driving -- it's just too much to be doing that often while also worrying about your father, and I'm just positive that you have balancing strengths you offer Ian.

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I'd love to hear your response to my post. Agree, disagree, even go off on a tangent, I love to know you're out there, readers. Let's chat, shall we? I apologize, though, for the temporary necessity of the Word Verification -- spam comments have been tiresomely numerous lately, and I'm hoping to break that pattern.

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