On the airplane from Hong Kong to Bangkok, my wife and daughters sat together in the three seats ahead of me. I was stuck by myself next to two strangers. Having already flipped through the SkyMall catalog filled with $800 air purifiers and high-tech neck massagers and with no one to talk to, I got a little bored.
I took out the barf bag from the seat pouch in front of me and listed all of the countries I have been to. Then I listed the countries my daughters have been to. Then I listed the countries Julie has been to.
Just about then, Julie turned around and peeked between the seats to see what I was up to. She motioned for me to pass the barf bag to her through the gap between the seats.
A minute later, she handed it back to me. On the bottom, below my four lists, she had neatly written in block letters "It's not a competition."
I looked up. She smirked at me. I stuck out my tongue at her.
Somehow my wife has gotten the idea that I operate with some sort of mental check list.
Eleven days later, we found ourselves in a long line ready to cross the border from Thailand into Cambodia. It had been a long day and we had a long way to go still.
Our border crossing guide indicated for us to follow him. I checked to make sure that I had my passport. I checked to make sure that our daughters were following us. I looked around at all the commerce and chaos that surrounded us. I looked ahead to keep an eye on our guide.
We walked past a sign that said "Welcome to Cambodia." I looked around to make sure our group was still together. My wife caught my eye across the crowd. While she held my gaze, she silently raised her hand and made a big check mark in the air.
She coolly turned away and kept walking.
I couldn't help but smile to myself.
To be truly and deeply known by one person is one of life's most wonderful things.
It's also one of the most disconcerting.
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Published on 1/29/11