After Quebec City, I didn’t exactly begin to return home, but I no longer kept moving farther away. I drove across 6 hours worth of Canada to see my friends Doug and Meredith Ward in Ottawa, Ontario. Ottawa is the capital of Canada. Last time I visited there, 18 years ago, Doug took me to see an hour of the Canadian Parliament in session. They behaved as badly as our Senators and Representatives in Washington, DC.
The reason I drove six hours across a small portion of Canada—which is a very big country—was to see friends I don’t see very often. Almost 40 years ago, in Louisville, Kentucky, at a very fine graduate school, Doug, Meredith, Sally and I became friends. Canada is a long way from South Carolina, so we don’t see each other very often. Once upon a time, they came to Columbia, South Carolina, to visit us with their three daughters: Lydia, Lauren and Meghan.
Who can explain rapport, bonding and connection when it happens?
What I have discovered over the years is that relationships of all kinds require work: marriage, parenting, being a son or daughter, being a friend, networking wherever you are employed.
Good vibes with another human may happen when you least expect it, but moving from acquaintance to friendship or meaningful interaction requires work. Phone calls. Lunch if possible. Date night with your spouse. Time together. My Dad and I each used to drive 45 minutes to meet for lunch on Fridays. When he died, I grieved for losing him, but I did not have to grieve for being a bad son.
So, even if you can’t get together more than once a decade, make the effort and do it. That is what I did. I drove to Ottawa, Canada, to see Doug and Meredith. This time, we skipped the sights of Ottawa. We sat in their sunroom, relaxing together, and drank hot tea and ate cheese and cereal and barbeque and fruit for most of two days. We talked. We laughed. We were like spigots that were open at full volume trying to force out all the verbiage that had been stored up for years. I took a couple of walks just to wind down. We went to church together on Sunday. Even their daughter Lydia, who still lives in Ottawa, came by with her husband Kevin and children to visit for a while. I loved our time together. Who knows when we will all see each other next, but I predict we will. I am grateful for relationships. They require time, energy and effort, but so does anything that has value.
I can’t think of anything more valuable—in my life—than being surrounded by people whom I love and who love me. Here is to skipping sights occasionally and spending time in conversation with friends!