This July we celebrated our five year anniversary in a English castle. We booked two nights, one to enjoy our anniversary stay and another to shoot some family photos. It was a little bit surreal walking through the door with our luggage. Lisa took it in stride, she’d stayed in a lot of homes. She’d seen a lot of castles. How was this any different to her? But her face lit up when we got to our room and she realized that, unlike in the other castles that we’d visited, she was allowed to touch everything in this one.
Our anniversary celebration also marked our sixth month of traveling without a home base. Jake asked if I’m happy, traveling like this, and I said I didn’t want it to ever end. We took a moment to relax on the bed while Lisa got acquainted with the castle furniture. We recounted some of our our favorite moments together on the road. At one point, one of us said that even though this was our fifth wedding anniversary, it kind of felt like our lives together had just started – like the previous four years of marriage had been the prologue to a wonderful book that started the day we decided to change directions.
The biggest difference isn’t where we are or what we are doing, but who we are doing it for. We still work hard at the photography we shoot for ourselves, commercial clients, even friends we meet on the road. However what we do now are on our own terms and is a completely different experience. As artists we still demand a lot of ourselves and of each other, but with the knowledge that we are working not for a good review or a like, but to bring out the best in ourselves.
Our work isn’t the only thing that has changed. It’s remarkable how differently we see each other now, too. There’s a saying, “wherever you go, there you are.” I think there should be a second part to that quote. “Wherever you go, there you are. Whoever takes you, shapes you.” And I don’t exaggerate one bit when I say that Jake and I have taken each other on this journey. Especially with little Lisa in tow, neither of us could have made it this far on our own, and we have leaned on one another harder than we ever have before.
Our abilities compliment one another well. Jake does most of our photography, I do the post-processing. I do most of the cooking and Jake roughhouses with Lisa. Nether of us likes or has time to clean, so we try stay at houses that have cleaning service that comes in every week… priorities.
It’s the way our personalities compliment one another that really makes this work. I don’t really think that opposites attract. We aren’t opposites at all really, but we differ in just the right ways. Jake is easily contented, (sometimes very frustratingly so), but I can get a little too ambitious for my own good. I keep him moving, and he keeps my feet on the ground. Even though I have always fantasized about travel, I also get very nervous about new experiences and meeting new people. Jake doesn’t seem to get nervous at all. I make sure Jake understands what the risks are, and he reminds me what the rewards are. Together, we keep things in perspective. Alone, neither one of us would get anywhere. Together I feel like we can accomplish anything. Traveling together has reenforced that dynamic like never before.
Then there’s Lisa. If it’s true that you don’t form memories until you are almost two, then this is the only life that she knows. Even though she has to put up with a lot for us, she seems to be genuinely happy. She loves the greetings she gets when she arrives in a new place. She loves to explore new places (whether we want her to or not). And she loves us. There’s no daycare on the road, and no babysitters. Lisa is with one of us or both of us 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. It makes working harder, and it makes relaxation tiring. But it makes her smile more.
In the end, Lisa is our real client. She’s the one we think of when we are mustering the will to get out of bed hours before dawn. She’s our main consideration when we are looking for a place to stay. It’s her health that we’re most concerned with when we cook something healthy even though we’re all tired.
Even on our anniversary we pulled out our cameras. We did our thing. It sort of felt like work. At times it felt like play. But there was no question that it felt like a celebration. A celebration of where we were, of the path we had followed to arrive, and of paths unknown that would lead take us into the next year and beyond.