so i made the rounds of calling a couple of my friends last night after a faculty meeting. i couldn't get ahold of two of them, got a dropped call from one, and had a nice little conversation with my friend nikki in vermont. it sort of got me thinking about what a shitty friend i am. there was a period when i was dating my ex, that i never talked to my friends. then when we broke up, i talked to them all the time. i suppose that's the way it works. and like good friends, they lifted me up when i was down. my friends christina, jaime, and jillian suffered through countless calls. for the record, i facebook with jaime now (who is married), occasionally talk with christina (who now has a little girl), and get to talk to jillian once in a while (different time zone). the friends that i had in florida (which were so close for a period in my life) are now relegated to christmas card status. its not intentional, but it is still shitty of me to not put in effort.
of course, all of this goes with our friends who recently moved. i had a tiny bit of awkward silences with my friend sarah today. i guess it comes to the fact that we have never outlined how or distance relationship works. i am hanging on to what it was like to have them close...and they are working and living and getting ready for baby. i think i said something like you should come over next weekend (which isn't really very cost effective, since we will see them the next weekend) and then i got the litany of comments that i have handed my friends on multiple occasions: a) the drive is long b) the car and mileage and c) two travel weekends in a row. of course, this is where i inserted that since they moved, we have either traveled too or with them four times. but i digress...i get it. its not practical and those are pretty good reasons. however, i said the obvious "when the baby comes...what happens." isn't this a concern for alot of people. if you cant make time now...when? im so guilty of this. sarah said i was paranoid...but i think its a fair question. i get cards in the mail all the time from a friend of mine from high school. do i reply...normally not. i send one christmas card. its not fair.
d was pretty much saying all those excuses to me last weekend before we went to tulsa...a) the money b) the gas c) its so and so's turn...but in the end, we came to the realization that some things are just more important than those lists. however, how many times can you tell yourself that. christina and i have been telling each other that we were going to visit each other for years...hasn't happened. i saw her once in orlando a few years ago...but it was simply because we were both traveling there at the same time. i saw jillian a few years back...but it happened to be at the same time that i was in ca for a conference. in the last few/next few weeks, we went to a concert in texas and will go to ks with slancer. we had a blast, and im sure we will have...but we would have all gone on those trips anyway. see...it just doesn't count. in lieu of feeling sad about all of my friends around the country that i a) don't talk to anymore b) feel sad about or c) relegate to facebook...i offer the following article that i found off the internet. its interesting and may bring comfort and advice to those who miss that special someone from high school, college, or maybe an old family friend...
THE DISTANCE FRIEND
Whether you met in high school, college, or some other time in life – chances are high that distance will come between you and some of your closest and dearest friends. How are we supposed to maintain long-distance friendships? Some people find it difficult enough to maintain friendships with people in the same town. So how are we supposed to survive a hundred miles or more?
The truth is that it isn’t easy. And that’s okay…if you’re willing to put in a little effort occasionally. But remember, both parties have to put in equal effort. And that effort might pay off tenfold if: you suddenly live in the same area, you get married, you get divorced, you have children, you travel through their town, or if you just want to maintain that friendship because it’s important to you as a person.
Ways to maintain distance friendships
1. Commit. Just like in a romantic relationship, friendships require commitment. If you’re not willing to make the commitment to stay connected to someone you care about, then simply put – you won’t. Just when you think you committed...commit more. remember that its a two way street. if you friend is doing all the lifting...they will feel lonley and eventully stop lifting at all.
2. Variety. Myspace. Facebook. E-mail. Texting. Calling. There are a variety of ways to stay connect, so there is no excuse not to! The better the friend, the more variety in their ways to connect to you. If you are only using myspace to stay connected to your best friend, chances are that you probably won’t be best friends for very long. It’s important to hear their voice! So use a variety of methods and use them frequently. If you talked with someone three times a week when you lived in the same city, then try to match that.
3. Driving. I hate people who talk on their cell phone and drive!! But I’m guilty. It’s my main way of staying connected to my best friends. If it’s going to take me 20 minutes to get home, I might as well do something positive on the way there. Headsets are a great idea, and don’t be afraid to say – “hold on” when your driving requires some more attention. And please don’t hit me with your car. Thank You.
4. Memory. While your friend is telling you all about her experiences with new friends, people, and work – it’s likely that you won’t know any of these people. Trying to keep everybody and everything straight can be a challenge. What’s a solution? Write it down. You will need to work extra hard to remember what your friend is saying because you’ll have no other personal connection to it all. Remembering the details and the people’s names is a great way to show your friend that you care and you are paying attention. Need some help remember?
5. Notebook. Grab a spiral notebook while you’re chatting on the phone (NOT while you’re driving!) and jot down the important stuff – people places, etc. Glance over it again to refresh your memory before calling or writing your friend. Little details make a big difference.
6. Plan a monthly trip. Even if you’re both broke, plan a trip together every month (more if you have the funds to do so). If you live more than three hours apart, you might only be able to do this quarterly. Make it an annual thing, if you live cross country, and take lots of pictures. You can go to your friends place, your friend can come see you, or you can both go somewhere else together. Bring spouses and partners if you want, but warn them that it’s going to be a lot of “catching up” and it could get boring for others.
7. Snail mail. Sending things in the mail may be a thing of the past, but if you don’t want your friendship to ALSO be a thing of the past, it’s time you figured out how to mail things. Yes, there are stamps involved. The post office can help you, but be prepared to wait in line and deal with cranky people. What can you send your friend? Anything! A note, postcard, letter, picture, book, cd, anything!
8. Their friends. Your friend will make new friends. Be ready to accept that, and even more importantly – get to know them! Meet them, write them, talk to them. These people surround your friend’s life. If you are even just casual friends with the new friends, you will stay closer. If they want to surprise your friend, or if your friend really needs help – these new people will know they can count on you. And so will your friend. Remember that if you make new friend, be sensitive about the issue with your old ones...to help them feel included.
9. The bad stuff. When you experience something bad – whether it’s a bad day, or just a bad moment (feeling lonely, sad, angry, etc) call your friend. That’s what friends are for. Don’t think that just because it’s a long distance friendship that you can only share the good stuff. Great friends are there for the good AND the bad. So be sure to call when you need someone to talk to.