a sabbatical rest, day 29
My wife Katie is the perfect travel companion. She lets me sit by the aisle, and eat her leftovers. That’s important because meals on international flights are fairly decent, and on Qatar airlines even better. It’s also nice to travel with someone who can watch your stuff when you go to the bathroom.
But today is her birthday and, with our flight in fewer than 4 days, she is in full Katie mode. Organized. Calm. Looking forward to the quarantine when we get there because she treasures time alone, sometimes by herself and sometimes with me.
She is taking a tea pot, of course. And some tea. Yes, they grow tea in Nepal, but they tend to export the good stuff. And she does enjoy the good stuff. If you have been to Nepal or live in Nepal and have any tips on where to find a good first flush let me know.
I’m just grateful to travel with her, and to celebrate her clicking off one more decade. We will celebrate having almost five of those decades together in June before we come back. Pokhara, perhaps.
But this post is about birthdays, which she doesn’t like because of all the attention she gets. She is not a party girl. She has never craved attention, which is awkward when your husband is a writer who is crazy about you. And since I am, and this is my blog, let me tell you why, especially when we travel.
First, she is steady in a crisis, and since we often travel with students, this is important. She helped evacuate a student off the mountains when we were trekking a couple of years ago, traveling with the student by helicopter to a strange hospital in Kathmandu. Head down, straight-forward, let’s do this. And let’s do it without drama. That’s Katie.
She is also organized. (I’m not, at least not with stuff.) I have no idea what all is going into the suitcases, but when we get there it will all be there, everything we need and a few things I’m not certain that we need. But she will be prepared.
She is healthy. And encourages me to be. Encourages anyone who asks. She has a wellness business but also a wellness passion. If I sit in a chair long enough, a glass of water will show up nearby. Better food, more exercise; she encourages me about all these things, without being anxious or sharp, although it did take her a few decades to get that down. Healthy is vital when you are spending time in a new culture with new foods and new routines.
But more than that, she has integrity. This comes from her faith in Christ, which she cultivates and grows. Katie is honest and expects others to be. She doesn’t embellish things. She tries to give a true report. She is careful with her words. And she reminds me to be careful with mine. I do, it turns out, like a little drama. So, it’s good to have someone caution you when people who don’t speak your language might think you are laughing at them.
Because of her integrity, she keeps her word. To me. To you too, if she can. She talked to a young Nepali woman in a Baltimore restaurant two years ago who asked her to reach out before we left the country. And she did. This kind of follow-through is important when you are meeting new people. She is good at meeting new people and making them feel welcome. Making strangers feel welcome is essential in a travel companion. And I’m glad she is mine.
We never imagined all the things we’d do or the places we’d go. We feel blessed and grateful. Not only that, by traveling and spending time in other cultures we are learning to be more forgiving and kind. We are learning to be more thoughtful and more generous. We are learning that different is not wrong. These are things you need to know when you travel. And we are travelers at heart. Pilgrims, actually, longing for our true home.
Happy birthday, Katie Metts. Let’s go to Nepal.