For people my age or older, have you found yourself asking someone the question “Did I tell you this already?” as you start a conversation. Or perhaps, “Stop me if I have already told you this”. Welcome to the club.
This past weekend, Mary Lou and I traveled to Missouri to the Auburn game. It is part of our bucket list to visit the stadium of every SEC team that Auburn plays. My college roommate, Bill, and his wife, Pam, live in St. Louis and we planned this trip over three years ago.
We flew into St. Louis on Friday and spent six straight hours talking before dinner. We talked for the two hours down to Columbia, MO for the game and then talked all the way back. Several times, the conversation started with “Did I tell you this already?”
Bill and I, along with our wives, traveled to Alaska in celebration of our collective 60th birthday. It is not that easy to travel for two weeks with your own children, much less with people you see every year or two. In this case, we were the perfect match as traveling companions.
Since then we have traveled on cruises along the Rhine River and the Danube River. We just booked our trip for 2018 along the Baltic States, including Norway, Denmark, Germany, Poland, Sweden, Finland, Estonia and Russia.
However, in an example of poor planning, just four days after spending an action packed weekend for the Auburn-Missouri game, we all depart for a two-week cruise along the St. Lawrence Seaway and down the Eastern Coast. Whatever will we talk about?
It has been 45 years since Bill and I were pledge brothers at Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity and first lived together. Our apartment was about the same size as a large walk-in closet today. Today, this tiny space is a game day condominium which shows you how crazy college football has become.
As close as we have been over the years, I figured that we have actually only spent 30 weeks together over the past 45 years. There were some years in the early days after graduation that we would not see each other, sometimes for years in a row. We then played golf over long weekends, along with some other great fraternity friends, that helped keep us all connected.
But it was our 60th birthday that drove us to commit to a trip every year, no matter what. Thankfully, Pam and Bill are organized, so we plan trips out almost a year ahead of time. Early planning for vacations is hard for Mary Lou and me, whose travel style is more like deciding where we wanted to go for the weekend on Friday afternoon.
Nevertheless, the four of us have spent a week or two each of the past three years traveling together around the world. There were only so many stories to hear about during our time together in the past, so we have to preface many conversations with the comment, “Did I tell you this already?”
I must admit that I cannot remember more than once or twice that anyone has said, “Yes, you told me that already”. I figure that is due to one of two things. First, everyone is just being polite, which is probably why we are such good traveling partners.
Second, and probably more true, is that we do not remember if they told us the story or not. A bit scary, but since we are all the same age, we understand and are forgiving of those increasing moments of memory lapse.
I have come to believe that telling the same story more than once to a friend is not a sign of old age or weakness. It is a sign that you are spending time together sharing the memories of a lifetime over and over. The more you do that over time, the more memories you create.
In any case, reach out to those in your past, tell the stories you share, enjoy the moments together and cherish the friendships that bind you. They are amongst the greatest gifts of our lifetime.
Dan Ponder can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org