While reading a book of Maria Semple’s (who is fast becoming my favourite author. Ever.) she brought up the phenomenon of the Helpless Traveller. I love this. Because it’s me all over. The concept of the Helpless Traveller is when you are travelling with someone who is confident, organised and decisive, they are competent, while you, flounder at every turn. Helpless and complaining of sore feet, having no input to decision making and being as melodramatic as possible. “Just feed me, I’m starving and my stomach is starting to absorb my other organs from hunger.”
This is my relationship with Phil. Sure, I rock the Helpless Halo most of the time, most days in fact. But sometimes Phil gets to be Helpless, and I jump into Competent mode, without thinking twice. While away in Austria (post still to come, yikes) I was wearing the Competent Cap because Phil was the sickest I’ve ever seen him. It was a man flu of dire strait proportions. He couldn’t sleep or breathe and he was constantly running a fever. Yet, lead by Competent me, I organised him onto the train to the airport with his passport, then on to the train from Munich to Salzburg and then navigated us to the pink mansion we were renting with friends. Of course, if I had had the option to be the Helpless one in the back seat, I’d have taken it. But knowing he wasn’t going to cope we switched roles, no discussion necessary.
To me, this makes us stronger. We don’t miss a beat because we know the other one will pick up the slack. It’s the same in every day life with basics like picking up something for dinner, or doing the dishes. He picks me up, I pick him up. Figuratively of course as I have zero muscles. Shit just happens. He’s the yin to my yang. I’m so fortunate to have someone who will put up with my ever growing list of melodramatic reasons of why I can’t or must do something. For example; I must shower first in the morning, because I don’t like stepping into the tub if it feels slightly slimy underfoot.
When I first met Phil, he was the Helpless one, with me running the show. He’s since grown up and taken on the Competent Cap wearing it more often than not, leaving me to daydream about becoming a food taster, a water slide tester or a favourite friend of the Royals. Basically anything with zero sense of direction, where I can wear my Helpless Halo.