What started out as a mileage run to the West Coast on Friday, turned out to be a day of interesting connections. My plan was to fly out to San Francisco on Friday morning and return the next morning. I needed one more flight – the cost of a cheap ticket – to reach the next level of my airline elite status. I have a pretty full travel schedule next year and the upgrade in status will be beneficial.
Since I had the time, I decided reconnect with an old college friend whom I hadn’t seen in over 25 years. He picked me up at the airport and from the moment I got into the car until we parted company later that afternoon, it was like we hadn’t missed a beat. Both older, yet fundamentally the same people we were back in college. There was a comfortable feeling being with each other even though so many years had gone by.
Later that evening I had drinks with a colleague whom I had met a few years back at SATW’s (Society of American Travel Writers) conference in England. During the evening I mentioned a personal project I was embarking on “People Making a Difference” and queried him about story ideas and people he may know. That conversation led us to talking about the travels we’ve each had over the years. We quickly discovered that we had made similar backpacking odysseys back in the early 70’s. We began to retrace the paths we had each taken – I spoke of traveling from Cairo to Beirut, then on to Damascus and through Iraq to Kuwait. He followed with a nearly identical itinerary and picked up the journey from Kuwait by boat to Abadon, Iran and overland to Afghanistan. We soon realized that we had been to the same places during the same period of time.
We both commented on the fact that we never come across people in our lives that have had that kind of parallel experience. He then told me a funny story. He had traveled back to India with his grown son when a young traveler came up to him asking for money so he could get something to eat. My friend told the traveler about his own journeys when he was his age. The young traveler responded by saying “Whoa – you’re one of the Ancient Ones”. My friend relayed this story to me and pointed out that traveler’s comment had been spoken in a manner of respect, the same manner of respect with which native indigenous peoples refer to their elders or “ancient ones”.
It was an unusual day where I set out to take a trip for the sake of miles and ended up reconnecting with my past on a couple of different levels. I tend to look forward in my life rather than at the past but sometimes reconnecting with your past connects circles and reminds of us who we really are. I kind of like being an Ancient One.