Monday, May 16, 2011

Every yin needs a yang

Recently my husband and I went on a vacation to France. This was our first trip away alone since our daughter was born. Eight years ago. Ok, so we had one overnight to St. Michael's a few years back, but I am not sure we were even gone 24 hours. Other than that I can literally count on one hand the number of nights I have not slept under the same roof as my children. And those nights were because I was in the hospital so I'm not sure that really counts. So a whole week of just me and the husband was either going to be a glorious opportunity to reacquaint ourselves with each other after not being able to complete a sentence for over eight years, or a total disaster where we realize that without the kids we are just two people who live in the same house.

What this week away taught me was that my husband is still the funniest man I know and how much our strengths compliment each other. I would be completely lost without him. Literally. As I have written about in this space before, he is (mostly) even-keeled and rational, whereas I am prone to the dramatic. He is a go-with-the-flow kind of guy, whereas I am...not. We have a lot of qualities that are the similar. For instance, we both think sleeping past 7:30am is for wimps, good coffee first thing in the morning is a requirement, not a suggestion, and humor can be found pretty much anywhere.

Many of the things I learned about my husband on this trip were things that have been there since the very beginning of our relationship. His warmth, his wit, his intelligence, his appreciation for a good pastry and his tolerance of my handbag addiction. He is not only the father of my children, but the love of my life and the man I would marry all over again. What I did discover on our trip is that he too has a secret superpower. And it is so powerful that it compensates for my fatal flaw. My kryptonite. As I have mentioned in the past, I am a directionless marvel. I cannot read a map. I cannot follow written directions. I struggle to follow my GPS lady despite her clear, deliberate and insistent instructions. If left to my own devices I would probably just travel in a circle like a grocery cart with only one wheel that works.

Lucky for me, my husband has the power to figure out how to get places. I know, you are thinking, *wow, he can read a map. big deal*. First of all, to me, that is a big deal. If you give me a map I will squint at it, turn it from side to side, then 180 degrees, more squinting and finally I will admit I have no clue. If pressed I would have to admit that I have no idea whether I am facing north-south-east or west unless the sun is rising or setting, and even then I may struggle a bit. I am the antithesis of a compass. I am the last person you want to ask for directions.

But my husband proved how amazing his powers really are during our trip to France. He got us from point A to point B and beyond without any backtracking. He could look at that map and determine the best routes to get where we wanted to go, even if I changed our destination mid-journey. It was like he lived in Paris his entire life. Contrast this with me, who not only still has no clue how to get to our hotel from the metro despite taking that trip at least a dozen times. I also have no clue about the name of the street where our hotel is located.

So if not for my husband and his super map reading powers I would have spent the entire week sitting in the brasserie across the street from our hotel because I couldn't figure out how to get anywhere else. And at least if I was across the street from the hotel I could figure out how to get back there. Maybe. And if I was so inclined I couldn't even ask for directions since I don't speak any french. I would instead have to rely on my limited vocabulary of *bonjour, merci, oui, non, cappuccino and pain au chocolat*. Hence my permanent residence at the brasserie.

So my husband can read a map. Really really well. Big deal. Is that a super power on par with my ability to find lost objects (obviously this doesn't include if I am the lost object)? That question was answered when we ventured into the french countryside. We took the train from Paris to the Loire valley where we rented a car. Having never been there before, and because he was driving, my husband needed a navigator. That was me. I navigated us in a complete circle back the train station three times before he realized he would have to be navigator and driver. Did I mention how even-keeled and patient he is?

Near as I can tell, the french countryside is made up of a series of rotaries. If I had been the driver we would have went round and round indefinitely not unlike going down a drain. There are not many signs to mark the roads, and in the case where there are it doesn't matter because the road changes names about six times over the course of one kilometer. And the arrow signs pointing you in the direction of various destinations don't help because arrows go straight whereas a rotary is round. But my husband got us to the chateaux and everywhere else we wanted to go. At one point, when he navigated us to an obscure wine cave using a map that seemed to be missing some roads he actually did a fist pump when we reached our destination. I suspect that not even the employees are 100% sure how to get there. It was nothing short of a miracle. The miracle of a super power. Is it any wonder why I love this man?

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