I’ve mentioned this before but I’m married. Happily 90% of the time. The other 10% of the time I am actively trying to figure out how to murder him and get away with it. (I’ve been reassured by people who have been married for decades that this is normal.)
Every marriage is different. Every time I want to say “Josh and I have a weird marriage” I have to remind myself there is no normal. Everyone is just trying to find something that works for them, specifically. And they hope to God that this special formula they’ve created actually works out in the end. Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn’t. And that’s the scary brilliant thing about marriage.
With all that said………..Josh and I have a weird marriage. Josh is on the spectrum and I’m bipolar. Essentially, I’m an emotional hurricane and he’s…not. It’s hard enough to be married in general but a little bit trickier when you’re manically trying to explain to someone who struggles with emotions that sometimes you just get sad because it’s not raining hard enough to dance in it.
And our metaphorical baggage sometimes gets in the way of our literal baggage (or travels). It’s taken me a long time to accept Josh does not like to travel. He does not like to go out to events and crowds make him anxious unless he has a specific task he can focus on. He is a true introvert.
[We’re actually exact opposite all around. He’s INTP and I’m ENFJ. He’s an air sun sign (Aquarius) and a water moon sign (Scorpio). I’m a water sun sign (Cancer) and air moon sign Aquarius).]
This means I’ve also had to accept that all of my playwriting adventures will be adventures I take on my own. A part of me really likes this. I get to hop in a car in a brand new city and go wherever I want without having to check in with anyone. I can explore the city for as long as I want without worrying about anyone being worried about where I am.
Like, if Josh had been here, I would’ve missed this.
But it also means I’m alone. Traveling is lonely. I’ve talked to three different artists friends of mine who travel frequently and the thing that came up the most is how lonely it is. Even when you’re surrounded by people you like. You still go home to an empty room and it’s just you. And you can write or read or watch TV but you’re still missing something.
And it’s not even about missing a romantic partner specifically. I miss my friends. We send each other memes and talk on Facebook but it isn’t the same as sitting at a table over a round of drinks talking to people who truly know you and know your quirks. I can get along with almost anybody but that’s not the same thing as sitting in a bar in silence while I smoke a cigarette and my friend tries to trick me into taking a cute selfie.
And there’s just way too much time to think. Despite being a water sign, I genuinely hate being stuck in my head. So few of my thoughts are pleasant, I’d rather not be left alone with them. So I’m alone, reading the only genre I like (love story + affair + elements of fantasy = the perfect book), and wondering why I’m alone. Have I always been alone? Will it be like this forever?
Typically, when I get too deep into it, I spend the next day exploring the city. There’s nothing more interesting (to me) than a stranger. All those stories, all that unknown. It’s literally the best. It’s what I love most about traveling. On every adventure, I have at least one conversation with a complete stranger. And we get a little deep. And it mends my heart. Just a little bit. I’m reminded I’m surrounded by love and the world really is still amazing despite the constant dumpster fires.
Visiting Pittsfield has been a different kind of special. Almost every stranger I talked to was either a person of color or someone who was housing insecure or both. We talked about what’s sacred, what’s meaningless, and what makes us happy. I met some amazing young women and got inspired to write a new play.
In the middle of all this loneliness and missing my friends, my pets, and (sometimes) my partner, I found something truly awe-worthy. I think that’s what we artists who travel all have in common. It’s what keeps calling us to the road:
The opportunity to be changed through the somewhat magical healing powers of the unknown.
Thank you, Pittsfield.
Y’all there are so many beautiful lakes here. If you’re ever in Pittsfield, drive down South Street. Keep driving. You’ll eventually hit a lookout point over a lake to your right. Go there. Bring some tea. And sort your sh*t out. It’s the perfect place for it.