You do not learn about people by picking up all of the personal facts they purposefully drop casually. And people are rarely the version of themselves you meet on a first date or initial encounter, when they are making every effort to impress you by being as impressive as they can be.
People are closer to who they really are in times of stress and fear and boredom and times of trouble. People are who they are on an average Tuesday, when they have to go to work and do laundry and take the dog for a walk. People are who they are when they are not making any effort at all. You learn who they are by observing their actions and listening to their thoughts over time. By being with them when you think you are dying of food poisoning and are afraid to have the dreaded simultaneous shit/barf experience in front of them, so you go to sleep in the bathtub where it is safe, and they stay even though you really, REALLY wish they would leave (I’m not saying that happened to me. I’m saying that’s how you get to know someone). You get to know someone by laughing so hard you snort/cry/fart/piss your pants/all of the above when you are with them. By reading their emails, monitoring their Facebook messages, and checking their phones while they are sleeping.
I am obviously kidding about the severe invasion of privacy noted above…obviously.
Everyone knows if you really want to get to know someone, you travel with him/her. Close proximity…enclosed spaces…tiny Peugeots…people really come to life. You might notice he clears his throat every other minute or that his burps smell like ham. You might learn her favorite part of the evening is the “feelings” portion, yet her ability to become a dictator when everyone is hung over and about to miss a flight is unparallelled. You might discover someone amongst the group is a poo-guider. You might be shocked to hear he has not used soap in the shower for 31 years. Oh, except for his ass crack.
When you travel with others, you also learn things about yourself. If you haven’t, you’re not paying attention. You might discover your normal drunken tendencies aren’t that cute; in fact, they are really annoying. Or that you’re really awesome at navigating the back “roads” of Ireland and making friends with complete strangers.
I’ve taken a lot of trips over the past five years, and I’ve learned something new on every one about people, about myself, about travel. Here are ten that might help me when I Quit My Job and See The World:
Yeah. I’m actually a little frightened of the new things I will learn over the next 15 months.