A trip back in time that made my future

by the Night Writer

The reports last week were that President Obama and his family will be vacationing in historic Colonial Williamsburg, a village that has been preserved as a living museum recognizing the era of our Founding Fathers. Whether any of these Founding Fathers would recognize what their government has become is an open debate. Nevertheless, the mention of Williamsburg in the news caused me to at first casually, and then significantly, remember my own visit there in February of 1980.

I was working at my first job out of college then and my company sent me there for a week long training program. It was a trip back in time, and like time travel itself, seemed almost impossible. To get to Williamsburg from Phoenix I had to catch a 12:30 a.m. red-eye flight out of Sky Harbor, bound for D.C. Of course, it’s almost impossible to traverse the midwest without being sucked into O’Hare in Chicago, were I spent an hour and a half layover. Even D.C. wasn’t the final leg in my air odyssey: I then boarded a small, twin-prop puddle-jumper transport that looked like a pregnant guppy for the hop to Newport News. I remember that the entire backside of the aircraft opened like a drawbridge in order to load and unload luggage, and that when I took my window seat it appeared as if the wing propeller was spinning just 6″ away from my window.

After the “flight” (which felt more like driving the Baja 1000 in a buckboard) I had a final bus ride to get to Williamsburg, arriving at my hotel — one of the restored colonial inns — about 2 p.m. EST, only to find that my room wouldn’t be ready until 3:00 p.m. Whereupon I collapsed onto an overstuffed sofa in front of a large, blazing fireplace which, combined with my fatigue, soon had me stupefied.

Even with such a benumbing start, the week turned out to be very interesting and stimulating and the team I was thrown in with wound up winning honors for the week on our multi-phase communications strategy and presentation. One of my teammates would later that year offer me a position on her staff, a job that required me to move from Phoenix, Arizona to Minneapolis, MN (actually, my first apartment was in Eagan, roughly a mile from where my future wife was living at the time, though we wouldn’t meet for another six years). In the intervening years it had never occurred to me just how significant my trip to Williamsburg turned out to be. In those days I pictured myself moving around every couple of years to different jobs in different cities to find the place where I would eventually settle. I had mental lists of working in places such as Denver and Boston — lists where Minneapolis and St. Paul never appeared. Yet there I was in Williamsburg and as a result of that trip I found myself, in June of ’80, dodging tornadoes on Hwy. 90 through South Dakota and southern Minnesota, heading toward Mary-Tyler-Moore-land and my destiny.

I had no idea that my wife, children and ministry were waiting up ahead for me. Certainly none of those three were high on my list of priorities at the time. It apparently was on Someone’s mind, however, and that Someone was probably laughing at me grumping my way through that red-eye flight, the Chicago lay-over and the queasy puddle-jumper. I may have been asking myself, “Why do I have to go through all of this?”

I certainly wasn’t paying attention when the loving response came: “Because.”

And now I wouldn’t change a thing.

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