Bob and Suzy would be stopping by today. Here’s the backstory:
Bob and I grew up together. We had common friends, took the same classes and shared the experience of growing up in Van Nuys, California. For readers not familiar with the geography of Southern California, Van Nuys is one of the many indistinguishable towns in the San Fernando Valley. There is absolutely nothing notable about Van Nuys — it is just one of the many bedroom communities that sprang up around Los Angeles after WWII. I’ll leave it to the reader’s imagination what sort of adventures two young guys would have growing up in Los Angeles in the late 1960s. Let’s say we both managed to survive our adolescence and leave it at that. Eventually we both left Van Nuys behind. Bob finished school, married Suzy and settled in Denver to raise a family and start a successful family business. We managed to keep in touch and today would be our first face-to-face visit in over 15 years.
They stopped by around 11:30 and we spent the entire afternoon talking. I had expected to discuss what we had been doing for the past 15 years, but it was nothing like that. Most of the dialog meandered from topic to topic and slowly you begin to piece things together. Bottom line, they have been working hard to raise two great kids and grow a family business. They should be proud of their life achievements. After talking with them, I wonder if my corporate career wasn’t easier in many respects. It’s one of those what-if questions that never get answered.
So, there we were, two middle-aged guys talking about the last 45 years. On reflection, two things stood out. First, although we had both aged, the corrosive effect of time had more of an impact on me (one quick look in the mirror confirmed this). Second, life experience marginally changes personality. Bob is still basically the same great guy I know as a kid — only older and wiser. I am very happy to see he is doing well and has a great outlook for the future.
After a great Italian meal in Colorado Springs, we made plans to get together again. I’m looking forward to it.
Contemporary Note: Bob and Suzy are both geologists. When they asked where the campground was, I sent GPS coordinates.
Sadly, Bob passed away in 2017 after a long illness. Where we grew up, Van Nuys was just a place where people lived on their way to living somewhere else. It is unusual to stay in touch for as long as Bob and had. I think of him often and miss him dearly. He was a good friend and a great guy.