My wife and I recently returned from an anniversary trip to southern California. It. Was. Amazing. Refreshing in so many ways, beauty in more places than I can count, and I did it all with my best friend.
This trip came about on the spur of the moment, mostly because tickets were on sale. It was spontaneous and yet seemed destined. We have family and friends in southern California, people we haven’t seen in what seemed like forever.
The adventure began in northern Los Angeles with a visit to a cousin whom Karen hadn’t seen in years. Their families were close and, while geographically they had separated, in spirit they picked up right where they left off. In many ways, the bond of the family was stronger than ever. It was a wonderful visit.
The next part of the trip was a little different. We wandered south of LA to visit some friends whom Karen knew but had never met: Army buddies from the time I deployed in 2005. As we made the drive down Highway 1, it began to sink in – these men were part of the experience that drastically shaped my life.
When we were deployed, they were my family. The small unit that worked, exercised, and practically lived together was a huge part of why I am who I am today. As we were making our way to meet them for the first time in over a decade, I began to realize, “This was long overdue.” These men were giants in my memory. They were a part of my life that Karen had never known. They were instrumental in my faith formation, discipline, and growth as a Christian.
When we reconnected it was as if no time had passed. I met their wives for the first time and, so many years later, the relationship was rekindled with just a spark.
During our visit we laughed, we smiled, and we shared more about our deployment than any of us remembered on our own.
As we pulled away from the vacation heading toward LAX, I asked Karen, “So, what did you think of that?” Her response wasn’t shocking, but it also wasn’t what I was expecting. She said, “It’s like I got to see another part of your life. I’ve never heard some of those stories before, and it was cool to see that unfold.”
She was right (as usual). Old friends have a unique way of telling part of the story that I could never tell on my own. Old friends see us in ways of the past, some good, some not so good. Old friends can look at you and remind you of what was, so you can have a clear picture of how much you’ve grown.
Do yourself a favor. Visit old friends.