It was a familiar beginning – a taxi dropping us off at a subway entrance in an intimidating urban setting, but that’s where the similarities ended. For one, I was traveling with a work colleague and not wandering alone as I’ve done in so many dreams. Both of us decided in an instant that we needed to run as quickly as possible from the taxi to the uncertain sanctuary beyond the broken doors of the subway station to what we hoped would be our destination.
On the other side of the door, a pair of long escalators descended into a vast, luxurious subterranean complex that included shops, a hotel and a huge convention center. Since we were early, we stopped at a supermarket to find something to eat. Not noticing anything I wanted, I opted to find my seat at the conference, while my colleague continued to shop.
It turns out that the seating was by assignment. Instead of being seated next to my work colleague, I sat next to a distinguished gentleman in a military uniform who I immediately recognized as a well-known retired general whose name I couldn’t quite remember. He, on the other hand, was clearly expecting me, calling me by name and very anxious to engage in conversation. It became abundantly clear that I wasn’t going to be able to catch up on Facebook or otherwise be allowed to disappear into the anonymity of a crowd of strangers. In fact the General wasn’t a stranger at all – he knew much more about me than I would have ever expected.
Much of what the General shared with me was deeply personal, so much so that I don’t feel comfortable sharing it in a blog post. I will say that it was an interesting perspective on my professional career, things I already knew, of course, but events and experiences I had never quite framed in a single narrative. I’ll take that over getting lost in a strange town any day.