Lots of people ask me how Denis and I can live together, in such a small space, without killing each other. I’m not sure I have ever given an adequate answer, mainly because I don’t know. So I thought it might be interesting to notice on this trip what we do. Today I got some useful information… it’s a long story, bear with me.
(Our back garden tonight)
As I was saying we planned to be taking the slow journey through France, as long as the weather was kind… and the weather was grand, but we hadn’t taken into account a particular side effect of weather – water pipe safety. Yesterday we travelled for about an hour from the ferry at Cherbourg and arrived in the town of Isigny sur Mer at dusk. We planned to fill up with water and stay for the night. While in Cork the previous Sunday we had filled our drinking water tank but we forgot that there’s a safety thingy in the van that protects against frozen pipes – by dumping all the drinking water! It only happens if the temperature inside the van goes below 8 degrees. Must have gone below 8 degrees while we were on the ferry because when we got off in Cherbourg the tank was empty. We might have left 100 litres of Cork water in the English channel… sorry.
Not really a problem, we would get drinking water at the aire in Isigny sur Mer. But we couldn’t! This is a bit of a sweeping statement but it might still be true: in winter the French turn off the drinking water taps at their aires. To be honest we’ve only tried two this morning but two out of two is enough for me to start making sweeping statements. Still, not a huge problem, we do have a couple of two litre bottles of water I bought in Lidl when the whole of Greystones was on a boil water notice. That will keep us going for a bit, but I think we need to reassess, regroup and let go of the original plan.
(Spotted on our way to the supermarche)
When you decide on a plan and then set it in motion it takes on a life of its own. Every decision that follows fits neatly into the plan and before you know it there’s a machine trundling down the road to get water where none exists. The machine in this case is a camper van plus two humans. When the water at the second tap an hour south of the first tap was also turned off the two humans approached a crossroads (metaphorically). One of them was doing all they could to keep the machine moving with the original plan, i.e. on to a third tap, while the other human was doing all she could to throw out the original plan and come up with a new one.
(Here we are)
It turns out we have very different patterns when it comes to finding a solution. Denis focusses on making the present plan work (tenacious). I focus on coming up with a new plan (creative). Even thought this is a metaphorical crossroads it felt exactly like we were pulling in opposite directions and it was very uncomfortable. Discomfort makes me grumpy and blamey (not a real word but I think you know what I mean…?) It wasn’t very peaceful. I’ll spare you the back and forth that went on until silence descended. Not peaceful silence. Then something changed. (Incidentally I would not have understood what changed had I not been writing about it. Thank you, writing, I love you!)
(We found water!)
But first… Many years ago these two humans were not living peacefully together. They had a lot of hard stuff going on and they were pulling apart at every crossroads. And then they stopped, I actually don’t know why they stopped, probably a combination of things, other people inspiring them, books teaching them, courses educating them. I don’t know, but things changed and they found common ground. One night, I think they were sitting on the sofa watching the telly, they came to an agreement on something… they wanted peace. And they were willing to do hard stuff to have peace.
(Our first bbq on the road (thank you for teaching us, Moira!) and the orange/metal thing in the park is a game called disc golf – google it)
The thing that changed today was that as soon as we realised we weren’t at peace, we separately (and silently) stopped thinking we were right and the other person was wrong. Then we began to search together (awkwardly) for workable solutions to the problem. Then we drove to a place we knew had water… duh.
We are able to live together, in such a small space, without killing each other because we want peace, Mairead.