In defense of taking a road trip with an ex
Instead of seeing a relationship counselor, we booked a flight to Morocco.
Welcome to This Trip Changed My Life, where we spotlight the ways (good, bad, and everything in between) that travel has impacted the people we’re most inspired by.
I had been together with my boyfriend Bobo for almost 10 years, and it came to a point where we broke up. But we still deeply, deeply loved each other, and neither one of us could let the other go, so for six months it was this really toxic thing where we’d start to miss each other, start talking again, get in another fight, and be like, “It’s over for real this time!”
We decided we either needed to 100-percent let one another go, or try to make it work. But we hadn’t been able to work it through in our natural habitat because we had lived together in the same apartment in Brooklyn for eight years. You just start taking the person for granted, and we built up a lot of resentment over small things that eventually became a big thing.
It was the week before Christmas and we were like, “This isn’t working—what if we go on a trip?” We both had never been to Morocco, so it felt like neutral ground. Plus, there’s something about it that’s exotic and romantic, we love the desert, and we specifically wanted to go on a road trip together.
On the flight there, we didn’t really talk. We were civil, but we were just treading carefully because neither one of us wanted to start a fight. When we landed at Marrakesh, we found out that they lost Bobo’s luggage, so he was immediately very vulnerable. This was the first problem—there was challenge after challenge the entire trip.
We rented a car to drive to the Atlas Mountains and sand dunes. They drive on the other side of the road and the rental car was a stick-shift—which I hadn’t driven in years—so it all felt very different. I started driving and immediately I realized that the gas tank was empty! All of the sudden a guy magically appeared on a motorbike next to us on the road and he asked, “Do you need gas? I’ll show you where to get it.” He had sketchy vibes, so I said, “Oh that’s okay, don’t worry.” But he kept driving with us, so we realized we had to lose this guy—like, where is he going to take us? Is this a scam and he’s just taking us to get overpriced gas? Or is it a setup and he’s going to rob us?
We were on a pretty populated road and I could see gas stations up ahead, but he directed me to turn onto this super-sketchy road. There was no way a gas station was there, so I just gunned it and went as fast as I could. We lost him, and ended up getting gas—but there was a moment where I thought he was going to find us. Bobo was really impressed with my stick-shift skills. He was like, “Whoa babe, I’m so proud.”
Later that day we reached the Atlas Mountains, and it was really intense. There are these tiny little roads, you’re so high up and two cars can barely pass and on either side of the road it plummets thousands of feet. It’s icy, it’s dark, and we didn’t even have snow tires. We absolutely couldn’t bicker or quarrel, because your survival instincts kick in. We had to be team members; he had to support me with directions. We ended up pulling up to the bed and breakfast at midnight. The owner was really nice, he cooked dinner and opened up a bottle of wine for us. We were so exhausted and just, like, “We’re safe. Holy shit.”
At this point we still had not kissed the entire trip, but we were sharing a bed. And if you’ve been with someone for 10 years you know that I’ll roll over and hug you. Just naturally, our bodies do that without even thinking.
At this point we still had not kissed the entire trip, but we were sharing a bed.
The next day we drove towards the dunes, and I ended up getting pulled over by the cops because I was speeding. I thought, oh shit, this is it. They walked up to my car and said, “You need to come with us into our car.” I thought we were going to get shaken down, so I whispered to Bobo, “Stay here, hide the money, keep an eye on me in case something happens.” I got in the car…and they started hysterically laughing. “Why isn’t the guy driving?” they asked me.
“I’m the only one who can drive stick.”
“Who is he? Is that your husband?”
“No, that’s my boyfriend.”
“Your boyfriend?! How long have you been together?”
“Ten years and he hasn’t asked you to marry him yet?!”
They were cracking up. They ended up being the nicest guys ever, they loved me.
“How many kids do you have?”
“We don’t have any kids.”
“Oh my God, she doesn’t have any kids and they’ve been together for 10 years!”
“I know! Why don’t you tell him that?”
It was just hilarious. They ended up letting me go, and when I got back in the car Bobo asked, “Kristin, are you okay?” I just told him they wanted to have a talk with him.
After that, we got really distracted and ended up taking our time exploring. Suddenly we realized that we had three more hours left in our drive and it was already getting dark. Every blog said you shouldn’t drive in the dark because it’s dangerous—you’re in the middle of the desert, it’s really rural, and people can rob you. And sure enough, this man in a long robe ran onto the road in front of us, waving his hands. I saw his friend on the other side of the road and I just knew: We’re about to get shaken down. “Whatever we do, I’m not stopping,” I told Bobo. “Lock your door.”
I started intentionally swerving, but he kept moving into my way and trying to get onto the car to stop it. Our hearts were racing, and Bobo was like, “Holy shit, we’re about to get killed!” It was the scariest part of our trip. I somehow managed with the stick shift to just slow down and then go really fast again. I was like, I might hit him but I don’t care. My adrenaline was racing. I was really shaky after, but Bobo said, “That was amazing–you’re so calm and collected. You just got it done.”
It felt like we appreciated each other again. He forgot what a tough, cool, calm girl I was. And I completely forgot that he can be a really supportive guy. We found the hotel and it was the first time we were really like, Oh. We almost died together. We had a romantic dinner, a bottle of wine, and we kissed.
The next day we went out on camels, and that’s when we started having fun. Everyone else had these big camels and they gave Bobo a tiny, white camel. It was so funny. And the rest of the trip we were just laughing. We were like, we can have fun. This is fun. I was eating vegetable tagine for a week, and Bobo was eating lamb tagine for a week, and in the car we both felt so farty. To the point where we’d stop, go out and take a picture, and get back in the car and be like, oh my God! We’d be cry-laughing because it smelled so bad.
The first half of the trip was all drama—it was one thing after another, and we went through all of that together. And then after the drama ended, we were having a good time and able to open up about stuff. We had eight-hour drives every day, so we started talking and opening up about things we weren’t able to before. We were really honest about what bothered us about the other person—there were things I didn’t even realize bothered him about me until then.
We became a really good team: Bobo was the navigator, I was the driver. We went through Fez, the blue city Chefchaouen, and by the time we had our night in Casablanca we were 100-percent back together. It was New Year’s Eve, and I remember going down on the beach with him, being on the boardwalk. At that point we were holding hands and it was understood that we wanted to make the relationship work.
Before, we had been so resentful of each other and we just couldn’t get over it. The trip really helped me see Bobo for who he was, and not pay attention to the things that don’t really matter. Like, washing dishes, or stupid stuff like that. I realized that our true selves get along really well, but we can’t get caught up in stuff that isn’t important.
If we hadn’t gone on this trip together, we would have either kept drawing things out, or put a Band-Aid over our problems without ever actually getting to the core of it: what we appreciated about each other, and why we were getting back together.
—as told to The Glassy