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Traveling on My Own

Traveling on My Own
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BY KELLY KELLY

Almost no one in my life today knows me BMTR (Before Marriage to Ray). My children of course, whose perceptions are colored by the fact I’m their mom. A niece and two cousins who’ve been in and out of my life since childhood, and a small group of girlfriends who live 1500 miles away. After marriage to Ray I moved 400 miles to accommodate his business, and then moved another 1100 miles to accommodate his disability.

The girlfriends I left behind probably knew me best. They were family when I was a single working mother. We shared holiday dinners and summer vacations at the lake. One of them loaned me money when I couldn’t buy groceries and all of them watched while I worked a difficult job and raised my children. They weren’t surprised when I bought my own Harley, some gardening gloves and cataract glasses (wind protection) and rode off into the wind.

The BMTR me is someone I was proud of. Not that I dislike the current me because I’m having a good middle age; one with love, belonging, mostly good health and financial stability. It’s just harder to be me AMTR than it was BMTR. Much of my life, like many women’s, is based on what my husband needs and wants.

He likes the suburbs and I like urban neighborhoods. We live in the suburbs. He doesn’t like the fifty thousand foods I like so I cook separate dinners, cook one of the five things we both like, or we eat out. I’m in charge of the remote control with a caveat. He doesn’t like most of the shows I do so it’s my job to find something we both enjoy. The exception is football season when the TV is all his during games and there are a lot of games. It feels fair to be more accommodating than I might normally be because he works and I don’t.

I’m the one writing this article, though. If my husband wrote this, he’d tell you that he never gets to eat at Arby’s or McDonalds when we’re together, that he never gets to decide where a picture hangs in the house, and that I always drive with the car windows down. “Wear a sweater” I tell him. Let’s face it, that’s what married people do. We give up parts of ourselves to make a whole.

As a married person I simply can’t live every day of my life being half of something. Sometimes I have to be only me. Luckily my other half feels the same. We normally vacation together but we also take separate vacations. This year I went to the UK, visiting Scotland and England, while Ray went to Cabo with guy friends. “I never want to see the rain again” he said when we moved south and he meant it. The UK has a lot of rain.

On my own, I do things Ray thinks are dangerous or uninteresting like walking the streets of London at night, peeking in peoples windows and marveling at the un-American feel of it. Meandering cobblestoned Edinburgh streets at midnight I stop to hear Celtic music or eat interesting food.  Ray would hate the music and the food.

I got lost walking in Hamilton Scotland, a small town outside of Glasgow.  I had no cell service and not everyone was friendly so I spent hours exploring without a map. This is a memory for when the sharply independent edgy girl I really am feels like half of a whole.

The UK has a high population of Pakistan and Syrian immigrants. Burkas make Ray nervous, but I’m just interested. I walked parts of London where almost every restaurant was Middle Eastern. Men that Hollywood casts as terrorists sit at sidewalk tables smoking Hookahs. Over dinner I struck up a conversation with a young woman on her way back to college in Kuwait.

Traveling alone, making decisions based solely on my interests and desires meant remembering who I am. I touched the fearless part of me. That woman who bought her own motorcycle, paid her own way, and walked without fear. I came home happy, younger and sexier which means my husband is a happy man. While that is a good thing, it just isn’t the most important thing.

Kelly Kelly is a freshly minted fifty year old beginning a writing career. Her middle aged mission is to get real. You can read Kelly’s blog at middlepause.blogspot.com or contact her at kkelly993@gmail.com

 

 

 

 

 

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