Saturday, July 16, 2011

His take, Her take

Traveling as a couple is quite an experience. There is so much you learn about each other as you are put in situations you wouldn't normally experience in everyday life. We were talking with friends of ours today about this and one of them said to just wait until we travel with kids. Yikes!

Here are some things I {Jenny} learned about Brandon:

We knew we wanted to rent a car for portions of our trip in Europe. But I'll be honest. I was so nervous about Brandon driving around Europe! I was also very curious to see how he would respond to certain things... the language barrier, different cultural norms, a parade of churches and museums, street vendors shoving objects in your face...

I have more faith in him as a competent driver than before. He was awesome on the autobahn and in a baptism by fire in the streets of Florence. There were times when we had to fight across lines of vespas and cars to make a turn and he did it! Round-abouts? No problem! There were times I wanted to hide my eyes when we were on those crazy two-lane freeways with big-rigs on one side and sportscars racing up behind us, but he rocked our sweet little Opel.

I was impressed at how Brandon jumped into each city without much reservation. He was attempting to speak the language and greeting shopkeepers and restaurant staff. His smile and kind greeting was warmly received wherever we went. I loved that! He is such a social learner. He thrives and learns through interpersonal connections. Every place we went, he was trying to start up conversations. I really admire that quality in him as I tend to be more reserved and introverted.

I was also surprised at Brandon's appreciation of the art we enjoyed. It was wonderful to share those art gallery walks with him. I loved how much we connected over art and history. Brandon has such a sense of adventure that I'm not sure I really knew the extent of before this trip. He was up for trying just about anything and taking my long walks... even after he had already experienced a few.

We shared so many wonderful experiences together. As with walking through each new challenge or experience, I love Brandon more now than I did when we married.

Here are some things I {Brandon} learned about Jenny:

In preparing for this trip, I relied on Jenny for a lot of the planning since she had been there before and was familiar with many of the things we were going to encounter. I know she's a planner and I love that about her and that we share that in common, but I was blown away with the level of detail she put into her planning. We didn't waste a moment on our trip and it was all thanks to her.

I was a bit nervous about the language barrier and having to converse in German, Italian, and French along our way. I knew that Jenny spoke French, but I was stunned by how beautifully she spoke it and how well she engaged the native French in all sorts of situations. Restaurants, on the phone, conducting business. Definitely a wow moment seeing her in that element. She is definitely a world traveler and she is in her element exploring this part of the world.

I learned that my wife is a bigger history buff than I realized. As we explored the sites and museums of Normandy, I loved that she was as into finding beaches, buildings, and exhibits as I was and I loved talking about the events and impacts as we drove.

I also discovered Jenny's public transportation persona. She gets incredibly serious, especially on subways and it's pretty intimidating. It's a stone cold forward facing look that says "DON'T mess with me!" It took me several uneasy trips to figure this out and I completely understand it now, considering all of her trips to Europe before this have been as a single woman. I'm glad that I can be there for her now and protect her from the guy in a Napoleonic outfit singing and dancing with a baby doll and the drunken English college students jumping up and down and shouting. Both true events on our trip.

Something my in-laws did not clue me in on before we left was something called a "Jenny-walk." To define it, a "Jenny-walk" starts as a walk to a destination that is "just a few blocks away." You may or may not get to that original destination, but the walk branches out from there until you've found yourself miles from where you started seeing things you never intended. Though we returned exhausted and with sore feet, those walks are now fond memories.

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