This will be the first time I have written my column while on vacation. The result is that this column may be a departure from my usual. It takes me about five days to change my thinking patterns away from work issues to whatever the time off involves. In this case I have traveled to rural Virginia to visit my lifelong best friend Paul with my wife, Melanie, and our just-home-from-college son, Paul. My son Paul is named after my best friend Paul.
My friend Paul (MFP) grew up in Massachusetts with three sisters, a mother who raised horses, and a father who traveled all over the world as an international diplomat and advisor to several Presidents. MFP was a great student and an Olympic athlete and an introvert—all very different than me. Our friendship is based on each of us admiring the other for our differences, our loyalty to each other, and our lifelong passion for cars, mostly European cars. MFP began his career as a college professor but before long became a part-time professor and full-time car hobbyist. His days have been spent for years not buying and selling cars, although he occasionally did that with great success, but restoring carefully chosen cars he had found for his permanent collection. Typically, the cars he now owns are worth ten times what he paid for them, but none are for sale. He is an expert, needless to say, and he can do all the restoration work himself.
One of the purposes of our trip does involve a car. About five years ago MFP bought a pile of rusted and dusty parts of a race car built by an aircraft engineer in St. Louis in 1959. He bought it so he could recreate it while working with his namesake, my son Paul (MSP). Each year MSP spends about a week in Virginia. He is learning while fabricating, restoring and assembling this car. MFP and MSP have become fast friends. For the past week, I have been part of the rebuilding team and I have learned to do things I never thought possible.
The second extra special part of this vacation is that one of MFP’s sisters, Diana, who is three years my senior and who I have not seen for 45 years scheduled a visit from Seattle with one of her grandsons, who is 15. He has also been part of the magic of race car restoration and learning to do things you never thought you could do.
For me, seeing Diana was a tearful reunion. I felt a spark of renewal of a lifelong friendship that was only a seedling when we last met. Each night our little group of seven met and exchanged life stories which often involved things we had shared as youths, but had experiences in very different ways. Longtime friendships are important to me.
It was a terrific vacation and next year we are going to do it again. But now back to work, having learned some life lessons that apply well to my HAC family and many longtime and budding friendships where we often accomplish things that we may not have thought possible.