The first thing people ask when I tell them I’m going to New York for the weekend is, “who are you going with?”
“A couple of friends,” I tell them.
“Isn’t Jared going with you?” they inevitably ask, with just a tiny hint of “what are you doing cavorting around the country without your husband” in their voice.
The official answer is, “No. He couldn’t get the time off work and he’s watching the kids that weekend.”
But that’s not entirely true.
When I decided to go to New York City this summer, I sent my husband a text message. I told him I was going to New York at the end of June and that he was welcome to come along if he’d like. I extended the same offer by phone later that same day.
So technically, he can’t say that I didn’t invite him.
Initially, he expressed interest. He said it sounded like fun and he’d kind of always been interested in NYC too. And then he mentioned something about needing to put a request in to get the time off work – and I seized my chance.
Two days later when I confirmed that he hadn’t gotten around to talking to his supervisors, I booked my flight. And no matter how many times I’ve assured him that he could still get a ticket and join me, we both knew the decision was already made. I was going to New York City and I was going without my husband.
Jared and I have traveled quite a bit together. I took him to see Chicago on our honeymoon. We’ve been to California more than once because of my work. We went on a cruise with friends of ours several years ago. And of course, we went to Vegas to see Prince last March. We’ve had no shortage of vacation time together.
And every single time – I take Jared.
We go some place that I have been. Or on a trip that I have planned. I set the schedule, book the flights, reserve the hotel and remember what time we have to be at the airport. I am, in every sense of the word, the Navigator in our relationship.
To be honest, that’s something I’ve always loved about him. He’s supportive and has always been willing to go along with just about any wild scheme I can dream up. It’s no secret that I like to be in control, and Jared rarely fights me on that. He trusts me implicitly and I am truly, truly grateful for that. Nine times out of ten.
But sometimes, like this time, I don’t want to take Jared.
I want to be free to explore. I want to take in the feeling of The City without feeling like a tour guide or chaperon. I want to have absolutely no clue what I’m doing and not worry about the eyes I can feel looking to me for answers.
I want to feel the sweet release of my muscles when the weight of the world is lifted off of it for a moment.
I just want to stand on a corner and breathe without the responsibility of checking someone else’s pulse.
And I want to know when in the hell I stopped thinking of my husband as my companion and started seeing him as a responsibility!?!
I wonder if it’s always been like this with us. Have we ever walked side by side, or has it always been me two steps ahead leading him by the hand?
Surely there is another way. He’s a grown man for God’s sake. And he manages to wander around in the Big Bad World without my help every damn day. Clearly he’s more than capable of functioning without my assistance.
I suspect he’s more than willing.
I wonder now, on the day that I board a plane without him, if this trip could have been something else. I wonder if we could have ventured into new territory together, as equals and partners and co-conspirators. I wonder if I could have learned to breathe just as deeply in his presence as I will on my own with my friends.
As much as I am absolutely thrilled to be going to New York today – and I am, believe me I am – I also find myself thinking about the next big adventure.
And I wonder…
…things can be different.