It’s times like this that I really miss my wife. Well, there are lots of times that I miss her. Like all the time. But when it comes to holidaying, I miss having her remember the pin to the credit card we use abroad and the code for the locks on the suitcases. I’m useless with numbers whilst she was an accountant. I miss how she’d dispense her shampoo and conditioner into tiny little bottles so that even though we were in deepest, darkest Africa, she could still have well quaffed hair. I miss how she’d have thought ahead to charge all the various electronic devices and pack the correct adapter plugs. I miss how she’d cleverly stash our extra cash under the lining of her walking boots so that should we get mugged, the muggers wouldn’t find it even if we had to strip. I miss how she’d be the brave one, the one who got the jungle leech off me, even if she was scared.
Wife was an explorer. She was an adventurer. She was a lover of luxury hotels. She was stingy. She was organised. She was meticulous. She made the most of every last minute of holiday even if that meant getting off the plane and going straight into the office from the airport, still in hiking boots complete with remnants of gorilla poo on the bottom (true story). At her funeral, the list of countries rattled of by the minister, that wife had visited, took ridiculously long considering she was only 26 when she left.
I’m about to head to Madrid con mi madre for a short Easter break. I now understand how exasperated my wife must have been with me when we were getting ready to travel. My mother is basically the disorganised me but with thirty years more practice. I, on the other hand, have been under the thumb and trained to the ways of wife. I’m bossing my mother around and getting annoyed at tiny things. Essentially, it’s like me and wife in our marriage.
Much as I write about her in a disparaging way sometimes, my wife really was spectacular and I miss her ridiculous spirit. Travelling was such a big part of our lives – the importance of escape from London life cannot be overstated. Since she died, I’ve travelled an awful lot as a means of escape, not just from London, but from grief and from being a widow. I’ve found it incredibly liberating. I’ve had fun. I’ve been ridiculous by myself. I’ve slept with strangers, gotten drunk on the beach, stood on top of a baby grand piano to sing, ridden an elephant, snorkelled with Tunisian Mafia, sipped champagne whilst floating in the ocean, missed ferries, asked for forgiveness in Notre Dame, had many a dodgy massage. It goes on and on. Travelling solo has been fun.
Now I find myself travelling with someone else for the first time since wife died. And it happens to be with my mother. I think she’s going to drive me up the wall. If there aren’t tears, it will be a miracle. I love my mother to bits, but I can see myself getting exasperated when hungry and lost in some sweaty barrio, surrounded by sweaty Spanish men in bright coloured, unflattering trousers. I just know we are going to have some sort of exchange rate conversion disaster where we think we are getting a bargain but actually we’ve put the decimal point in the wrong place and end up paying £100 for a wooden bull ornament.
I’m sad to be going on holiday. It feels like only a widow could ever say that.
God how I miss her. (And I still can’t remember the code for the locks)