Arron asked me a few weeks ago, ‘If you could do this trip with anyone else, who would it be?’
I thought for a while. In the end, I couldn’t give him an answer, except ‘No one.’
It has so become OUR trip that I simply couldn’t imagine it as my trip with anyone else. It is not exactly how I imagined it, or how it would be if I was alone and had complete control, but the sacrifices and adjustments more than make up for Arron’s company, and I hope, though will never truly know, that he feels the same.
It is incredible to think that this time last year I had never even met him and yet, since the beginning of this year I can count on one hand the days we have spent apart!
I have never before spent this much time with one person and it was one of my biggest concerns about the trip together. What if we didn’t get on? What if we irritated each other or ended up hating one another? In fact I fully suspected that we might decide to split along the way, but, only a few hundred kilometers from home, we are still cycling and camping together.
At the beginning I believe we needed each other. Cycling and camping in conditions as cold as those we faced in Xinjiang meant that falling out simply wasn’t an option. We needed one another for warmth (I reheated my frozen toes up in his armpits more than once), for shared cooking duties, and to be honest, basic survival.
As time wore on we have needed one another less. The conditions are easier than ever, our own abilities increased and comfort zones stretched to easily encompass our current daily challenges.
We have stopped at numerous points along the way to talk about whether to stay together or not and have always ended up choosing to do so. Inevitably cycling with someone means compromises on both sides. Sometimes one of us has to stop early because the other is feeling tired, other times we have to push harder to keep up with the other, and sometimes we drive each other nuts for no other reason than that we haven’t had any space for a few days.
Perhaps it would have been different had we managed to cycle the entire journey, as tiredness can often aggravate an otherwise minor issue. However, we had other stresses to deal with (namely wrestling dismantled bicycles onto buses and through numerous unnecessary security checks) and somehow we managed to overcome the difficulties and still find time to laugh together (and sometimes at each other!)
Before we left Hong Kong Arron was lent a book by a friend called, ‘Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus’. He read it and raved about it and said I absolutely had to read it. So I did.
In truth I hated the book, I found it outdated and sexist (though I’m sure it wasn’t intended this way). However, it had unexpectedly positive results when we cycled. Though I may not have liked or agreed with some of it, it gave us a framework that we both understood. We could then use and refer to it when one of us was having difficulty understanding the other and in that way, were able to give each other the space or support needed – or at the very least, try to!
As it is, we are still cycling, still laughing and sometimes crying and still on our trip together! 🙂