Who Was That Guy?

Have you ever met yourself?  Not like some sort of “know thyself” touchy-feely exercise. I mean really meet someone, a complete stranger, who is essentially you at a younger age. I have and it’s spooky. When it happened I was immediately struck by the parallel life choices and the coincidental events that led the two of us strangers  to be at the same place at the same time. After it was over, even now, I am somewhat amazed and wonder how this happened. I perceive myself as being a little different from most guys based on my interests, life experiences, sense of humor, etc.  What would I say to myself at a younger age?

I was on a solo vacation trip, over 1,000 miles from home, and had spent the day visiting a few places that appeal to me but would not appeal to many other tourists. That’s often the way I travel. I might be considered a little bookish and perhaps overly thorough when I plan a trip. Planning is half the fun but I am also just as likely to strike off on an unplanned tangent way off the beaten path. On this day I had spent several hours driving up a dusty canyon road to visit an old archaeological site that used to be famous but has since been pushed aside by other discoveries. Once I got back to civilization I decided to stop at a microbrewery close to my hotel. I sat at the bar and struck up a casual and sporadic conversation with the bar maid — I brew beer and we talked about different styles and what they were brewing. What they had on tap was pretty good and the place was a beer geek’s paradise. They even had a blackboard where they recorded the brew details, dates and specific gravity….really.

After a while a young guy in his mid 20s took the bar stool next to me and ordered a beer and started reading a book. The book was ‘The Last Stand: Custer, Sitting Bull, and the Battle of the Little Bighorn’ by Nathaniel Philbrick. This is not a book I’ve read but one I’d probably like to read and by an author I have read. I asked him how the book was and we ended up talking at length about authors and various books. We had read the same books in many instances and some others by the same authors. If you have ever met an old friend after many months or years apart and began talking like you had never been separated — this was almost what the experience was like.  It turned out that we had the same interests. He was a government researcher who had moved to this city a while back and was about to get married in the next few months. This is somewhat close to my own experience at the same age. We talked for quite a while and had several beers. We talked about our work careers and job changes and hobbies and the more we talked the more it seemed like I was talking to myself at an age almost 40 years younger than I am now. Pretty soon it was time to go find something to eat so we parted ways and said our goodbyes. I have no idea who this guy was but as I left I really wanted to tell him to hang in there and stick with his plans and that it was all going to work out OK in the end.



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