Tuesday, December 2, 2014

long distance blows

It's a crazy part of friendship that for any amount of time, there are people in your life who ARE your life. You count on them for absolutely everything. You wonder how often you can spend time with them before it gets weird. You have actual, sit-down conversations with your spouse (or sometimes even just yourself) about the need to slow down and give them some space. Don't be needy. Don't be too intense. Don't be that guy. 

All I can say is that I'm glad it got weird, even though being apart is now the living worst.

It got weird and that's when things get truly extraordinary. Snowpocalypse sleepovers and Fresh Market picnics, birthday surprises and Mario Party marathons and never-ending group text messages. Weekend trips and late-night stories and new adventures.

It's now officially December which means I'm feeling the feels. The holiday feels. A lot of memories are returning to me of days gone by. Christmas memories from our tiny apartment in Virginia, and of the friends we so dearly miss.

Our friendship with Colinoria (our affectionate nickname for our couple-soulmates Colin and Victoria) was rare. It was fostered under the strangest conditions: living in tiny apartments less than a mile apart while the boys finished up law school. Pre-kids, pre-adulthood, pre-complications. We were in extended college life land. There was work, for sure, and lots of studying. But there was also a lot of play. And through that we were cemented together. Even more so by our uncanny resemblances to one another (me to Colin and Dustin to Victoria). It was straight-up crazy at times, and I think we were all dumbfounded at various points by our great luck at somehow finding each other in this mad world.

Long distance is one of those sucky situations that is often most lamented when it involves romantic couples. But the struggle is real for everyone. Family, friends, loved ones. The world is filled with beautiful people and if you happen to meet kindred spirits on the other side of the country (or world), you're going to have to prepare yourself for the lifelong ache that is long distance. 

Here are my grandiose ideas for surviving a long-distance best friendship:

1. Contact.
This is what group messages are for. Also, these new voice texts have been a life-saver for me because I hate the telephone. But calling is good too. So is FaceTime or Skype. Stay in touch!

2. Gifts.
Maybe you don't have money, but you actually do. You have enough to send something, anything, in the mail. It's important. Maybe more so for a person like me whose love language involves gifts, but it's important nonetheless. Find silly things to send and it maintains those fun little surprises that you were able to create when you lived in the same city. Instead of stopping by with cupcakes, you can send them a letter or a Starbucks card when they're having a rough week. It's a sweet gesture that's inexpensive and incredibly thoughtful, especially when the dominant means of communication today is a never-ending group text (which, as I've already demonstrated, I fully support). Think outside the box.

3. Don't forget the little things.
You lose a lot when you lose the little things. The little things are the tiny threads that begin to pull apart the entire knit sweater of a relationship. They're the ways you used to connect in person because you saw each other almost every day so you shared even the silliest stories with one another. Bring them into your jokes and daily interactions that make you laugh and cry. Tell them about your boss's weird laugh or that super embarrassing doctor visit. Be vulnerable, be real.

4. Reminisce, but not too much.
One of the greatest detriments of long distance is that it naturally prevents growth. Unless you work hard to keep moving forward. Long distance keeps you apart and living in the past, because that's when you were last together. Talking about favorite memories is a wonderful way to connect, but make sure the focus is staying connected to where your lives are going. Walk with them from afar.

5. Have a shared interest.
This summer it was Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson. All four of us read it (and the sequel) and talked about it incessantly. It was such a fun way to participate in something as a group. We used to have weekly TV nights for shows like New Girl and Sleepy Hollow, so having something we can still do "together" is really nice.

6. Visit each other. 
This is the hardest part, because now that we're all working and paying off our student loans, money is tight and time off is sparse. But just like anything else, you make it a priority. You save and you make it happen. It has been six months and two weeks since the four of us were together, and we're beginning to plan the first of many visits! It's probably the most crucial part of a long distance relationship, because you put your money where your priorities are. For a while that top priority will be paying off our debt - but we'll keep fitting money between the cracks to keep this friendship alive.

Because it got weird, and it got great, and it's worth everything.

Long distance blows. (But it's worth it).

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