I attended a lovely wedding last weekend. Marty, one of my past travel companions, married Charlie, someone she met on a trip, and now they have embarked on a wonderful journey together. I connected with Marty through her brother Luis, a classmate of mine from graduate school at Temple University. Marty and I bonded when her husband was diagnosed with esophageal cancer, the same illness that my late husband died of.
As two new widows, Marty and I started traveling together. We went with Road Scholar to Israel and Jordan. The trip was supposed to include Egypt, but that part of the itinerary was canceled when Abdel Fattah El-Sisi overthrew President Morsi. We didn’t mind when more days were added to Jordan—more time in spectacular Petra was worth any extra days! Marty, always the adventurer, covered herself with mud from the Dead Sea, since it was supposed to have curative properties. I did not, I thought it was messy and it smelled funny.
We were good travel companions, even though we shared a room to save expenses, and planned to travel more together. I talked Marty into dating online. I helped with her profile, took her photo and gave her advice. She was not a happy dater, but I egged her on to no avail. For her next trip Marty wanted to go to Argentina and Perú, both places where I had already been. She was comfortable going solo with trusty Road Scholar. On the first leg of her flight to Buenos Aires, in the Atlanta airport, she spotted Charlie with the tell-tale red Road Scholar luggage tag. As they say, the rest is history. They were a couple when they returned three weeks later!
I continued traveling with Road Scholar. Loved my trips to India, Nepal, Singapore, Bangkok, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Colombia, Honduras, Guatemala, Belize, the Galápagos and, my favorite, to Cinque Terre. I met lots of friends and kept in touch with several people. I inherited Cindy, another travel companion of Marty’s, because she was busy traveling with Charlie.
Marty and Charlie survived long distance dating from Atlanta to Villanova; she would fly to see him once a month and he did the same. Marty bonded with Charlie’s cats. She obviously didn’t need any dating advice from me. She was still working as a psychiatric nurse at Jefferson; he was still teaching history at Georgia Tech. When they both retired, they started spending more time together. Eventually, he sold his house and moved in with her. As luck would have it, he even has family in Pennsylvania. I remember one evening when my boyfriend-du-jour and I went out to dinner with the happy couple at the Caribou Café in Philadelphia and Charlie told me that he thought Marty had the face of an angel and I thought “this was meant to be.”
Not surprising, the wedding invitation arrived: “No presents, please, just a donation to the organization of your choice,” they were still downsizing. It was a small, intimate affair, (well, under fifty people, small for the fancy Radnor Hotel), but with all the trimmings: a beautiful bride, a proud groom, lots of happy friends and family, delicious food, an open bar, lively dancing music…
At the table where I was seated there were several ex-traveler-friends of Marty’s. We all wanted to go back to our travel adventures as soon as Covid would allow us. I wondered quietly if I will ever make those faraway carefree trips with Road Scholar again. Recently, the catalogs have started coming, but I open them with trepidation. I have checked some destinations, but nothing too far: Santa Fe, the Canadian Rockies, Chicago… I think that I’ll be lucky if I make it to Spain to see my family before the end of this year.