Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Far Away Friends

We live in a world where distance is sometimes inevitable; people go away to college, away to work, away to travel, away for no reason at all. It seems that that's just how it works in a world where travel is highly accessible and desired. We have so much information available to us about this planet we inhabit that we feel we can pick and choose where we want to live, and this often leads to families and friends conducting their relationships over a distance.

I met my best friend, Keri, in the seventh grade. During our Senior year of high school, her father committed suicide, setting into motion a chain of events that led her 3000 miles away to El Paso, Texas. When she first told me that she was considering moving to Texas with her then-boyfriend, I had to be supportive and understanding, even though it clearly meant the end of an era. Of course, our friendship would have changed anyway, considering that I was soon going to college an hour and a half away from our hometown, but the idea of my best friend being so far away? A little more than I bargained for. After her father's death, though, Massachusetts was the last place she wanted to be. There were too many bad, stressful memories at home. She knew she needed a change. She hopped a plane and didn't turn back.

Adjusting to the idea of someone so close to me being so far away was hard. Amazingly, though, we've stayed best friends in the three years since the move.

How you keep that connection going? I can't say it's a science, but there are a few things that have really helped us stay close despite the monumental distance.

Become Pen Pals

Keri and I try to write each other letters as often as possible. We were always into writing notes in middle and high school (weren't we all?) so writing letters has just become an extension of the teenage gossiping we used to love so much. We draw pictures, write poems, and find creative materials to write on, just to keep it interesting. Include inside jokes, always.

Share the Little Things

If you're not there to have experiences together, you're going to miss a lot of the important stuff. And the important stuff is, well, important. But I find what really keeps you feeling involved is sharing the stupid, trivial, no-big-deal things that happen in your everyday lives. That's what you did before, right? So why not tell your friend about that weird kid in your Shakespeare class or that funny thing that happened on the way to the supermarket? Sometimes I feel like I have nothing to say when Keri and I talk because I can't think of any Big Important Life-Changing Stories, but the truth is, part of why she's my friend is that we really enjoy the minutia of each others' lives. There's always something to say.

Don't Forget to Save the Date

Remember birthdays and other significant days, whether it be through a phone call, a care package, or a Skype date.

Make Time

One of the most difficult parts of being a long distance friend, for me, is that I tend to let time get away from me. I plan on calling and let the plan slide because I feel that I have too much to do: stuff that's right in front of me that thus feels way more pressing and immediate. Sometimes it's definitely not pressing or immediate, it's just that one of the ways I can make time is to cross a phone call off my list-- especially because when my best friend and I talk, we talk for hours. If you truly are busy, let the other person know and stick to a time limit. It's better to catch up for a half an hour than to put off talking for weeks at a time. If you do have time, make sure you prioritize: a really close friendship is a terrible thing to let fall to the wayside.

Online Networking

You're Facebook friends, right? Enough said.

Save Up for a Meet-Up

How about you start a wee little fund to buy a plane ticket to where your friend lives? If you save a little each week, a relatively costly trip can turn into a very manageable expense. Sure, it'll take awhile, but isn't it worth it to hang out with one of your favorite people?

Do you have any long distance friends? How do you stay close? If you didn't, what do you think went wrong? Any tips you'd like to add?


Kelly said...

My cousin (who I grew up with) moved to VT a few years ago. I'm still in KY. So there is quite a bit of distance between us. We talk on IM regularly (we are both online all day, it helps that we both work for the same company too so even if we don't have a ton of time for personal stuff, we still do talk most days at least on business!), send letters and packages (she recently sent me some brown derby glasses that have sentimental value to me, and nestled in there was also a book she read and loved, and some lipsmackers), and keep in touch on Facebook. I miss her a bunch, and our relationship has taken a strain since the move, but we put the effort in.

Kelly said...

Oh and I forgot to add, I definitely agree about sharing the little things. She sends me links to the glasses she just bought, I send her a recipe to a cake I made, and it helps us feel like we're closer.

kathryn-louisa said...

Having moved around a hideous amount in the past few years (London-Canterbury-France-Spain so far!) I have to say this is all such wonderful advice. Skype has pretty much saved my friendships, doesn't matter how far away you are, if you can giggle over stupid things with your best friends for ten minutes, you still feel incredibly close!



Elaine said...

blogging! :)


Zmaga said...

This post is really good. I only have one real long-distance friendship, and by real I mean that she lives in Italy and I live in Serbia... but I also have a long-distance friendship with a girl who used to be my best friend, but we never see each other anymore even though we go to same school!! Life got in the way...


Related Posts with Thumbnails