Yesterday, Meg and I had the opportunity to catch up with an old friend of mine. Rob was my roommate for the two years that I spent at the University of Georgia in 1979 and 1980. We attended the National Science Foundation Student Science Training program at UGA in Athens for about eight weeks both summers and during that time formed a strong friendship.
Several weeks into the program in 1979, we switched roommates in order to room together. We had a fine time, combing the local records stores, playing basketball, competing in "name that song" and yes studying. After the summer ended, Rob and another friend Cindy drove up to Gilman Pond for a very quick surprise visit.
The second year was even more fun. I returned as the junior counselor for the boys and Rob returned to continue research from the previous year. The group that second year included a number of wonderful characters who became close friends. The highlight of that summer was attending a Who concert at the Omni in Atlanta with Rob and another friend from the program. We had so much fun that year that parting ways was a joyful and tearful affair.
These of course were formative teen years, with the prospect of college and the real world lurking ahead. We were away from home, actually a long way from home, and we were living amongst our peers from all over the country. Oh and there were girls there.
I got to know a number of kids in the program quite well, but none so well as Rob. I learned that despite the fact I had grown up in the wilds of Maine and he on Long Island, we were more similar than not. In fact, we found not only our interests but our values to be remarkably similar. Realizing this gave me confidence and changed the way I looked at the world. It also served as the bedrock for our friendship.
Rob and I kept in touch as we started college, me at the University of Maine, he at Amherst. I visited him on Long Island and he visited me at UMO. We wrote letters in those days and I have a cache of them describing some of the details of the day - the new band we'd discovered, concert we'd attended or college course we liked or hated.
After visiting Rob in January of 1984, our contact diminished until I realized a couple of years ago that I didn't have a current address or phone number for him. Some internet research and probing emails remedied that and we re-established contact. I learned that his parents retired to this area and that he had a brother that had actually lived in Thetford! Rob and his family periodically traveled up to see his parents so getting together should be easy!
It actually turned out to be a bit challenging as we missed each other twice due to a schedule conflicts. But yesterday, Meg and I traveled down to Quechee and met Rob, his wife Sande and children Ben and Hannah for lunch. We're not the same shape we were twenty eight years ago and neither of us have as much hair but I immediately remembered Rob's easy nature, his openness, and his honesty. His values are reflected in his family, who relate to each other with obvious love along with a bit of New Jersey bite. We spent lunch relating stories from Georgia and learning more about the intervening years.
After lunch we all traveled over to Rob's parents home where we were warmly welcomed and spent time reviewing Rob's photos from Georgia and more catching up. When we finally left, it was with a warm feeling that we would be seeing each other again. Friendships such as this are not to be taken lightly.