I have found that the many of the people I have known over my lifetime would just disappear from my radar screen if I didn’t continue to initiate contact with them over the years. Sometimes it crosses my mind that maybe they don’t get hold of me because I’m not the wonderful, witty, fun person I tend to believe I am. I also know when I call people I risk—Oh My God!—rejection (usually indicated when they don’t remember who I am or we run out of thing to say in less than two minutes), but I’m pretty thick-skinned and talking to friends on a regular basis is an enjoyable pastime I’ve gotten into over the years.
But regardless of my efforts, I still manage to lose track of friends over the years. So this year, one of my 2015 challenges was to get back in contact with someone I hadn’t talked to in at least a year. I ended up getting hold of two old friends and one person from way back in my past whom I hope to get to know better.
First I called Frank in Denver. Talking to him was like we were renewing a conversation we had had the day before. I have known Frank for many years and we were employed by different government agencies, but worked together on several projects during our careers.
More importantly, however, we both shared the obsession of being fly fisherman. I thought I was a bad case, but one day on the Firehole River in Yellowstone, we started fishing just after dawn and, except for a half-hour break for lunch, were still on the river near sunset. The thing was, I don’t think we caught more than a fish or two all day—fishing was lousy. But that didn’t keep us from casting to uninterested fish for 16 hours.
Finally, I crawled out on the riverbank and literally almost passed out. Frank kept fishing. He yelled over, “Dave, if you are ready to go, I’ll stop.” “No Frank, fish as long as you want (I’ll just lay here and die).” And just like that, I knew Frank was just a little more possessed than I was about fishing for trout.” How I envied him for that—until then, I didn’t think that human being existed on this planet.
We talked for an hour and caught up on our families, people we both knew, and, yes, fishing. Afterwards, I knew we needed to talk more than once a year.
After that I called Sam. Sam and I had worked together for several years and I found him to be one of those unique people who are exceptionally comfortable with who they are. I seek these type of people out because, well because they always seem to live a life that makes them happy and that rubs off onto whoever they come in contact with.
We reminisced about the past and caught up on what each of us had been doing recently. His life was more interesting than mine, but that just makes the conversation more appealing to me. We finished by agreeing that the next time he made the journey from Montana to Washington to see family he would be sure to stop in Spokane for a day.
Then just last week, I had lunch with a classmate (50 years ago) from my high school in Arizona. I found Bill by accident on Facebook (more on Facebook—my newest diversion—at a later date). I didn’t know Bill well while in school, but when the school is small you have an awareness of everyone in your class.
I found on Facebook that Bill had recently moved to Spokane and through his page (that’s what each of 1.5 billion people use to contact and talk to “friends” [you may know all of this, but it’s new to me]) got his email address. I wrote him and asked if he would like to meet for lunch. We met at a a place called a gastropub (I guess that name refers to filling your “gastro” up with food and beer [which is what we did]) and ended up talking for over two hours.
Much of our conversation was about the old days in high school, but much of what we discussed involved current politics. They say you should never talk religion or politics in social situations and, with my views, in Spokane, that is often good advice. And although we didn’t agree on every single thing, we both felt free to say exactly what we thought. That only occurs when you sense the other person will respect your right to your opinion regardless, even if it conflicts with theirs.
To me, it’s rare to have such an interesting, easy expression of thoughts in a first conversation with someone. It was a delightful experience.
As we left for home, we agreed we should meet again and I am hoping we do. I’m going to invite him and his wife (who I haven’t met) to have dinner with my wife and I soon. I hope this will expand our friendship. Well, enough about my friends.
The thing is that three delightful experiences (and probably more in the future) would have been totally missed if I didn’t just shove (in a way) myself on these people. Really, why put if off because you worry about being thought forward or being disappointed? You’re a GEEZER, so do whatever you feel like and don’t worry if a friend doesn’t remember you (there may be many reasons for that). I’ve called college roommates, coworkers, childhood friends, and others completely out-of-the-blue and seldom had a bad experience. Most of the time we end up our conversation with “We should have done this sooner!” Just go for it.