Friday, 25 January 2013

Travelling At Home

When Matt and I first met we never expected to see each other again. It wasn't until my summer plans fell through that we even talked about possible visits. Then of course possible visits became I really want to see you how long can you stay? 

When you're flying across the Atlantic there isn't a lot of money leftover for other things. As evidenced by our travels documented here, we haven't ventured too far out of London for anything yet. In some ways I used to look at this as unfortunate but after Matt's last vist (well, after really talking to him about his last visit) I've realized that it's given us a new special kind of skill: the ability to travel at home. 

Parliament and Big Ben from across the Thames <3
It all comes from that first summer. With all the places we'd seen in the world (obviously Matt's seen more) I had never been to London and Matt had never been to a state other than Florida. So, when I got off the plane to see Matt again (or for the first time really) it was also the first time I was ever going to experience London. 

We saw a play at the Globe that summer and went to the BBC Proms at Royal Albert Hall (both places Matt had never been before). We saw sights and I remember - well really only some of it because it was a whirlwind kind of trip. But the parts I do remember were getting to know Matt's family and where he lived in Enfield, a place with no tourist attractions at all.

Then, about a month after I left London, Matt flew into Washington D.C. We spent most of our time in Calvert County Maryland where I'm actually from. There's nothing really special to be said for Calvert County. It's pretty in parts and great schools but it's really just a place people live. And that's what I was excited to show Matt. Of course we spent my birthday weekend in Washington D. C. itself and there were explored the Capital (something I had never done) and saw the White House and we walked along the National Mall and went to my favorite museum and before we knew it, it was time for him to fly home.
Normally I show off the cropped version where you can really see us
but this is what it was really like: children running everywhere
as we posed with my favorite dead elephant on my birthday :)
That was that. We never thought about it much. At least, not until Matt's most recent visit.    
The Washington Monument from the WWII Memorial

When Matt visited for Christmas we decided that we needed a day to ourselves in the city. Because of the heat in D.C. in August we had never finished seeing the memorials and it seemed like the perfect time to finish. In retrospect we should have waited for milder weather but that's another story. This time, I was more familiar with everything we were doing and I payed more attention to Matt.

At the World War II Memorial we were able to discuss our feelings on militaries and wars and monuments. Whereas before we were too focused on just the fact that the other was there. 

We finally saw the Washington Monument up close and Matt was actually asking me questions and I was realizing things I never knew and getting to teach him things as well.

We finally saw the Lincoln Memorial, experienced an absolutely awful lunch and then a slightly better one. We walked around the Tidal Basin and were surprised to see the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial waiting for us around a corner. Then we visited Roosevelt and Jefferson and finally escaped the freezing cold for home.

The best thing about the day was seeing Matt see things I took for granted. I got to share the memorials I'd been visiting ever since I was a child. While they seem small to me now - things I guess I take for granted - Matt has only ever seen pictures. It was wonderful watching him take it all in; the high ceilings and writing chiseled meticulously into stone. We share different opinions about memorials and such but all that did was spark lively discussion.

I even got to experience something new with him. The MLK Memorial wasn't opened until after we visited D.C. in 2011. When we came around that bend and saw it there it was almost surreal. Here's this great big statue of a man we both admire totally hidden in this little quiet place. If it hadn't been for Matt I would have called it a day before I even imagined walking around the Tidal Basin. But because we did, we found this...

That is the moral of the story when it comes to travelling at home. When I asked Matt what it felt like to show me around London, without my prompting he described exactly what it was like to show him around Washington D.C. It doesn't seem like it will be anything special at first, at least for you. It's just something you want to share with your partner. However, seeing your home through another persons eyes shows you how many interesting and wonderful things you're missing. You see it as if it was new. As an added bonus, you also get to see things you never would have seen before, like the Globe or the Capitol. 

Matt said is was amazing to see my face looking at all these familiar places with a sort of wonder. And it really was amazing to see his face as he took it all in. 

So, whether you and your partner live in the same place or have to visit each other like Matt and I do. Choose a day to take each other out and give the place you live a chance. It doesn't have to be a city like London or Washington. There's plenty of things to find in your own back yard - and that can be taken literally too. 

Even if you're on your own, that doesn't mean you can't treat yourself. You'll most likely be surprised at what you're missing. Maybe it will even give you a new outlook on the next day you're "stuck" at home.
The Washington Monument from across the Tidal Basin <3

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