It was good to see him. He's a likable man -- smart, funny, adept in his work. We aren't really close -- he lives a thousand miles away -- but we exchange the odd phone call or email, see each other now and again. There's a mutual affection and respect.
Sitting outside a fast food place near the interstate, we swapped stories, updated each other, talked about mutual acquaintances we liked or disliked. Nothing major, but it made me realize again that time-in-grade matters. That a history with somebody adds (or sometimes detracts) from a relationship in ways that you don't get in a new friendship. When you've traveled some of the same paths, there is a stipulated aspect to a conversation -- a shared experience that doesn't need to be parsed and explained. Yeah, we remember stuff from a couple decades back because we were both there.
Not to say that new friends aren't as good or better than the old ones; only that, as you can plant a new forest to replace the old growth, the trees aren't the same.