On the internet there exists a very famous photo of Will Smith. (Bear with me on this because I do have a point). In this photo he is on the red carpet with his wife and steps aside to show her off to the photographers, encouraging them to pour all their adoration onto her instead of him. He is stood with his arms outstretched towards her, not only making a point of where he feels the attention is due but also to demonstrate just how much he believes in her and wants the world to know it.
Peter does this for me.
All the time. He is always trying to show off any achievement I have accomplished whilst often ignoring his own merits and credits. It’s maddening because he is absolutely amazing in so many ways. Yes I am hideous biased, and yes I have seen him at his worst as well as his best (living in a car together can really test your strength as a couple) but there is so much he should be proud of. I am always incredibly appreciative of his tenacity, his level head, his high degree of intelligence (and his incredibly sexy butt) all in one fantastic package.
For the past three months we have been apart (with one quick break in the middle) on our separate Vietnamese experiences but thankfully that separation is almost at an end. So before I become once again ensconced in the cosy comfort zone of travelling as a couple again I wanted to shed some light on what Peter has accomplished. There are a million reasons why I have missed him during our time apart but there’s also been a billion reasons why he has made me feel so honoured to be able to refer to him as my other half. Within the challenges of separate travel in Vietnam, during all our adventures together around the world and even before we left our lives back home, he has proven again and again why it should be me holding out my hands on a red carpet to show him off to the world.
Whilst living in Vietnam we have been roughly 1000 miles apart and quite literally worlds away. I am surrounded by the brick and dust and fumes of Hanoi city whereas Peter has been living in the jungle. I have one small house gecko living in the corner of my room whereas he has multiple Tokay Geckos fighting over territory within his little hut and bats in the roof as well. I’ve had the comfort of a nice house with all the mod cons (and only a few roaches) whilst he’s endured all the difficulties of Asian animal care without that luxury.
One thing I sadly came to depend on in Vietnam is air conditioning yet Peter doesn’t have it. He wakes up sweating, he sweats whilst he works and then he comes home to his little hut in the forest to sweat some more. There is no escape from the heat and the humidity is so dire that all of his clothes have gone mouldy. When it comes to food it is literally rice or nothing. I splurge on a lot of western style food in Hanoi but Peter does not have that option where he is. At first what can seem like fun new challenges in an exotic location can quickly turn into a sour tasting marathon which is a test of endurance.
And yet he stayed.
He chose to stay and carry on with the work he wanted to do. He voluntarily chose to keep on enduring the discomforts despite having offers to the contrary. He even smiled (that beaming smile of his that makes me melt) throughout the whole process. And I find all that so very admirable.
Around the world he has proven to be the grounded advice to my whirlwind of chaos, the contradiction to my head full of doubts and the deliverer of congratulatory fist bumps. Whenever one of us achieves something we should feel really super proud of we celebrate by bumping our fists together. It’s no different to millions of other couples but we both know it’s significance as something far more momentous because we both understand the true effort and resolve it took to get us to the stage. And it often forces the other to actually congratulate themselves (as we both tend to see each other’s achievements as much greater than our own).
For those of you who travel alone I can do nothing but applaud you. And yes I agree you can find things out about yourself that you never knew when exploring the world in this way. But in all honesty I can say without a shadow of a doubt that travelling would not have been half as magical for me without Peter being there by my side. I have created my own little world here in Hanoi but I would have loved so it much harder and faster if he had been here to reassure me that this is where I belong. No matter the country of the work or the climate, it’s him that makes a place feel like home. He adds the sparkle just by being there.
I will admit that travelling as a couple really does have challenges and they are often rather unique in comparison to being a couple in your ordinary life. I’ve heard it said many times that travelling as a couple can make or break a relationship. Just in case we failed at those challenges we spent our first three months travelling around Europe so we were close to home if things went wrong. But they didn’t. They went right. Really right.
Not only did I realise how much our team work complimented each other’s flaws and strengths but I realised how much we could rely on each other when one of us was finding it tough. And Peter is so talented at that! He soothed me during Italian railway confusion, he comforted me during phobic panic attacks in Cambodia and he even guided me through all my snorkelling uncertainties in New Zealand. He is so immensely patient with me alongside his many other attributes.
After so much time together It would be a lie to pretend that we didn’t fantasise about time away from each other when we spent every minute of every day in each other’s pockets. However the separation during our time in Vietnam has certainly proven that we would prefer to be too near than too far.
As our Asian adventure comes to an end I can only be thankful that the rest of our time travelling will be spent together again. We can explore new cities, hike new trails, meet new people and enjoy it all together. I can once again breathe that little sigh of relief because i know that anything i find too difficult to handle, Peter’s got it. He’s almost like my security blanket which I cannot wait to snuggle again! I have appreciated the opportunity to discover what I am capable of whilst travelling alone but I am more than ready to buy two tickets for every destination and explore new things together again. And whilst I may plan these travel explorations, Peter is the one that executes it and he does it all in such a calm and measured way. He truly deserved to have that spotlight of adoration as it’s him that deserved the applause, not only for the many things he has achieved in Vietnam on his own but for who he is as a person. I really do love that person.
So finally a massive thank you to you Peter, for being you. We may go many places, see many things and experience much excitement but waking up next to you, wherever we are is the true magic. Let’s continue to chase the wind and touch the sky and find the wild things again, together. Whilst we do that I want you to remember something.
You is smart
You is kind
You is important.
I love you travel buddy X