ANNIE FRAZIER HALLADAY
Almost a year ago, I was lucky enough to marry my partner Tom. After a year and a half long engagement and figuring out that whole ‘why are we doing this crazy thing?’ thing, we had a weekend long farm-camping wedding festival. We were blessed to be surrounded by friends, family and loves from all over. It was so beautiful to have so many people we care about in one place and feel surrounded by so many different types of love in our lives. It was the perfect wedding.
Fast forward seven months to our honeymoon. Neither of us particularly love over-planning and we needed a good long while to recover from wedding induced decision fatigue before we could think about a honeymoon.
Like many decisions Tom and I make (together or separately), we decided on what we didn’t want to do and then somehow reasoned ourselves into it anyway. So our decidedly-not-amazing-race style trip was renting a car in Peru and driving a 2,100 mile road trip. In just 12 days.
A big part of our relationship history has been taking road trips together and it felt like a great way to celebrate and honor the ways our relationship has changed over time and to re-solidify many of the ways we know we’re compatible and things we love about each other.
The first road trip we took was maybe six weeks after meeting and we were both flush with New Relationship Energy. I was at work on a Friday, and Tom called me to ask if I wanted to help him move from Delaware back to Colorado that weekend- I said I couldn’t leave until after my farmer’s market job the next day so he bought me a ticket for the last flight out on Saturday. I walked out of the airport in Philadelphia and hopped into his Jeep to turn around drive directly back to Denver with him.
Early the next morning we slept for about three hours in one of the dingiest hotels either of us had ever stayed at (up until that point, anyway) in West Virginia and found out they served one of the best homemade breakfasts ever. Tom successfully taught me to drive stick later that day in a Kroger parking lot near a fireworks stand. I don’t think we turned music on even one time, and instead talked almost nonstop the entire way. I remember approaching Boulder in the last few minutes of the trip and feeling sad that we were almost there because I didn’t ever want the conversation to come to an end.
We’ve taken many cross-country and international road trips since then but Peru was the crown jewel in terms of both difficulty and amazingness. We drove from the giant city of Lima south into the desert, then high into the Andes Mountains where we spent most of the trip. There were more than a few moments when we admitted out loud to each other how difficult the trip would have been if it had been our first big trip together and we didn’t already have the baseline of comfort and trust that comes from surmounting travel stress and challenges with someone.
It was a huge undertaking- the winding and often treacherous roads, the fact that only one of us speaks relatively limited Spanish, and the challenge of navigating a foreign country without the help of a guide or local contact were no small tasks. It turns out driving a rental car through ancient narrow Incan streets and alleyways while trying to find a hotel while it’s getting dark and you’re both hungry and one of you is hallucinating from a fever is a pretty quick path to tears.
The trip was also filled with beautiful moments. There were endless sprawling vistas and many quiet moments to soak them in. Nothing compares to the connections you make during roadside lunches and overnights in towns that don’t expect tourists. I love eating fruits and obsessing over beautiful plants that I’ll probably never know the names of. For me, travelling slowly by car was the best way to soak up every beautiful moment in Peru.
And when I wasn’t hallucinating and crying (which, thankfully, was just that one night) I was mostly just filled with the happiness that I picked Tom and he picked me back.
I am so grateful that I found a person that will hear my outlandish ideas: ‘it’s only 2100 miles! We can do it!’ and be willing and enthusiastic to go along with and contribute to them. And that that person also has the wisdom to gently offer course alternatives when my ideas really are a little too big: ‘how about since you’re hallucinating and feverish, we take a day off to stay in bed and marathon that show we like instead’.
There were many moments that I saw some really sweet aspects and was reminded of the things I love about Tom- like when we stopped for tea at remote Incan ruins and he plunked down in the dirt lot laughing and sharing his lunch with the site attendant’s kids (they loved these American things called ‘pretzels’). Watching him doing his best at every filling station to ask for a full tank of gas, because it seemed like the way to communicate that was different in each region. Or when he offered a nearly-stranded biker a ride in a national park, even though it was late and it would be a hassle to get his bike in the trunk and Tom had already invited two other travelers with us (it ended up being one of the most memorable nights of the trip).
There were also some really sweet moments of compersion (that’s finding joy in my partner’s joy with other people). I thoroughly loved the moments I got to glimpse the things like who he missed while we were away, or the things that made him think of the other people he cares for. It was an unexpected way that I got to know him even better during our honeymoon. We’re pretty open about these things all the time but something about acknowledging that we were carrying our other loves in our thoughts and hearts to the other side of the planet made it feel extra special.
The day after visiting Machu Picchu we spent an afternoon wandering through an outdoor artisan market picking out gifts for people back home. Helping pick out a gift for a metamour was one of the clearest times I’ve felt compersion. My feelings went way beyond ‘I’m okay with this’ and were instead along the lines of ‘I love this!'
We got to know each other and each other’s feelings for our other partners in a way that I'm not sure would have been possible at home. It created the opportunity to celebrate and honor all of our relationships in our own way. For me, that powerful experience of compersion was a wonderful souvenir to bring home (along with a few bottles of Pisco!)
I can't wait to see what our future road trips will hold as we continue to grow and journey through life together. ❤️