Travel.

This morning, finding myself fresh out of conditioner for my hair, I reached into the bowl full of hotel grooming products we keep on hand, tossed back the first three (lotions) and dashed into the shower with my fourth pick, no idea from where it came. I lathered, rinsed, and repeated, thinking about getting The Who up, working at the Y, what we should have for dinner — and then popped open the conditioner. Instantly, I was on a huge cruise ship, tan and rested, with zero responsibility. Just from the smell. And sure enough, when I looked down at the bottle, I saw that it was a take-away from our Mediterranean honeymoon cruise.

Sigh.

Remember travel before having a kid? I kind of didn’t until this morning. Of course I remembered the trip; a) it wasn’t that long ago and b) it was the most memorable vacation I’ve ever taken, but I’ve just taken so many trips with The Who since then that it’s become my frame of reference. The smell of that eucalyptus conditioner brought it all back, though: running through the Vienna airport to make our connecting flight (unencumbered by a toddler, his stroller, and his pokey starting and stopping); bobbing in the Venetian water taxi, waiting for a slip to open up (unconcerned with whether I remembered the crayon roll or not); staying up late eating cookies and playing cards (not dreading the consequence of being woken by a kid in his pack-n-play in unfamiliar surroundings.) It was just us. Just us and the boat and the fun and the water and the time and the peace. Oh, the peace.

I love traveling with The Who. I really do. Although we don’t go much of anywhere aside from home to see my family, I love showing him new things and getting him used to being in different places. I don’t generally mind the extra time and thought it takes to pack for two now and to make sure I have all the things I’ll need for hours out at a time. I like having a car-companion on our long road trips and I love seeing things like take-off and landing through his eyes.

But it’s so nice to lean into a hot shower, massage some Princess Cruises Lotus Spa conditioner into my hair, and remember the rocking of the ocean beneath us as we slept, waking in a new city as the sun rose, and spending day after relaxing day with my wife — just the two of us grownups.

Alone on the top deck, near the end of the trip, docked in Marseille.

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