There are moments when you travel with anyone where you need a break.
Maybe it’s the ten minutes when they’re in the shower or perhaps you have to escape and wander around outside. It’s nothing against the person, it’s human nature to crave a little alone-time.
Which means that Jackie and I are off the norm a beat or two because we never reached that point in sixteen days of being joined at the hip during our trip to Wales. Our parents must be stunned as they watch from heaven, wondering where were these two girls who grew up having massive battles day after day. Yes, I readily admit that I caused many of them. Most of them. Hey, I’m a redhead, whadda ya want?
But there we were, in Pembrokeshire, Wales for the second time and so utterly in love with the place that what went wrong didn’t have the slightest impact on our dispositions. In a moment there was a new right thing taking place and all was charming again.
Like our first solo trip to the Cinque Terre National Park in Italy, we had a flow to our daily actions.
“So, do you want to…”
Her husband, known to us both since we were twelve and fourteen, still hates when we finish each other’s thoughts. We say: Get over it.
So during this wonderful trip, sister shorthand was fully in action. We’d pack a lunch and take a hike or grab a bus and check out a castle—there are an abundance of them in Wales, so we were never at a loss to find a new one.
We start our trips with a game plan, a spreadsheet of places to see and things to do. The only items we end up scheduling are those that have to be pre-purchased, such as a tour.
We literally have each other’s backs as we face opposite directions so that what’s behind one is paid attention to by the other. We have sister-code and when one states, “Move left,” the other does it immediately and in a moment the reason is clear. We’re not like the horror-movie folks who have to debate why a person is telling them to run from the scary guy in the mask.
During this pleasantness and yin/yang, there are occasional fluke moments.
When you have a sister (me) who not only awakens from a deep sleep when feathers fall out of the pillows, and you have another whose sinus-issues make her snore … well, there’s a recipe for conflict.
Earplugs in, eye-covering on, I settled into the king bed we had to share one night when we finally arrived in London. Dog-tired from that one planned tour, I felt a deep sleep pending. Sister, equally as weary, did the same. Quietly (I thought), I did my breathing exercises, ten breaths in, ten breaths out, nine breaths in, nine breaths out. Yes, insomniac me felt sleep about to engulf my entire being. Yah!
Then it began.
What’s this? Snoring that matches my husband’s ability to shake the walls! How does such a big noise come out of such a little person? But there she was, Jackie’s belabored breath disrupting my much longed for doze.
Unlike with Alex—I wake him up, he rolls over, and goes right back to sleep—I can’t wake Jackie. We have trouble getting to sleep, so by golly if she’s out, I’m not about to cause both of us a restless night.
I did what I’ve done more than once when traveling with my husband.
I yanked cushions off chairs, grabbed a robe as a blanket and hunkered down on the floor at the foot of the bed.
Man, she was loud that night. The loudest of the entire trip. I screwed the earplugs in tighter and spent a lot of time praying: “Please let me sleep, please let me sleep.” Should I have intoned, “Please shut her up, please shut her up”? Maybe.
Two in the morning rolled around and I caught a break, things were quiet on the bed above me. I started to drift off. Yeah! Success.
An earplug must have come loose because I heard her stir. A blanket rustled, a pillow flipped, a hand patted the bed.
There was a slight panic in her voice as she asked, “Where are you?”
I groaned, no, don’t wake me up!
My answer, “Shut up! I just got to sleep.”
I realized, oh gosh, that’s mean and added, “I love you.”
Her quiet murmur came, “Whatever.”
We drifted off.
In the morning, the bliss of our in sync sisterhood was back in place. One bad night’s sleep wasn’t enough to mar the joy of our travels and the work we’ve done to be best friends.
We’re already planning our next trip to Wales.
I wonder, can I sleep in noise cancelling headphones?
*Written with Seester permission.