Friday, January 9, 2015
Take him from the fire into the frying pan
I googled the Jerry Seinfeld episode where he traveled with his girlfriend and things did not go well. I was looking for a quote but couldn't find it. Instead I found about 3,490,000 Google results for traveling with your girlfriend. 3,150,000 results for traveling with your boyfriend. Who knew traveling with your bf/gf could cause over 6 million internet anxieties? I suppose I shouldn't be surprised. Anxiety is the new black.
As usual, I'm seeking information too late. That's a good thing. If I don't know ahead of time what to be worried about, I'm less likely to look for trouble or to spend a lot of energy second guessing, leaping to conclusions and seeking out ulterior motives.
The Electrician and I have already clocked two weeks of traveling together and I'd say it's going well. If he were speaking to me, I'd tell you what he thinks.*
It helps, that we're traveling for work, not pleasure. We're not trying to be entertained or to entertain 24/7. We're both working most of our waking hours so our time to get on each other's nerves is limited to the 4 hour drive and the couple of hours we're awake at the end of the day.
Now that his situation has changed and my work is portable, it makes sense for us to live in the same place even if that place is an economy hotel populated by other traveling workers who require the basics - no bed bugs, heat and air conditioning, hot water, a comfortable bed, free wifi and expanded cable.
We're developing a rhythm helped by the fact that we're both creatures of habit. He's up first and out early. I get up, shower, go to the lobby to fill my giant tumbler with an unhealthy amount of caffeine, grab the USA Today for later and return to the room to get to work. At the end of the day, he returns, showers, we eat, do the USA Today Crossword puzzle together, watch a little TV and go to bed.
This week the hotel's hot water tank blew and it was -2 degrees in the West Virginia Panhandle. It's perfectly reasonable for someone who's been doing physical labor outside all day to expect to come back to the hotel for a hot shower. There were probably 300 men who couldn't do that for nearly two days. A pall fell over the Days Inn. The housekeeping staff got a feral look in their eyes if you asked when the hot water might return. Discussions were held about vacating. I feared mutiny.
It's the closest I want to come to pioneer life. Out of desperation, I took a cold shower. So cold it hurt. Water like shards of glass. Or maybe it was ice. Thankfully I'd warmed enough water to rinse my hair. Thank goodness for the in-room microwave, the ice bucket and the coffee maker. I tried to fill the tub with enough hot water so The Electrician could take a bath, but was stymied by the non-functioning drain stopper. I even tried to Life Hack a stopper to no avail. I'm taking that as a sign that I was right. Life is meant to be weird and difficult.
We survived the ordeal and smell clean again even if my hair does have a slight scent of coffee.
The trickiest part of traveling together is the drive. Four hours each way is plenty of time for me to get under anyone's skin. It's in that quiet car that The Electrician and I are still playing emotional chess - being ourselves, but not quite. We range from letting our freak flags fly to staring silently out the window at the mind-numbingly flat landscape of central Ohio.
I pull out my Kindle and play Solitaire. He jokes it's the most expensive deck of cards he ever purchased. I switch to reading a book until he's no longer paying attention. He recounts the plots and characters of his favorite TV series and movies. I listen and think if I ever have a script or a book completed, he's going to be my pitchman. Sophie Facetimes me and rides along in the car with us. There is much talk of cats.
The Electrician downloads music often. His tastes vary and he tends to play a song over and over until he's had enough. Last week's song was Yelawolf's Til It's Gone. This week's jam is Stephen Bishop's On and On. I had the 45 of that song when I was 10 and music was still pressed onto vinyl discs.
The music provides background for the conversation and filler for the silence. Last night, we rode along singing, neither of us surprised at the lyric muscle memory, both of us off somewhere in the mid 1970s when we couldn't have imagined the strange and wonderful turns our lives would take.
On and on...
You just keep on trying.....
What's your song this week?