I’m not good at goodbyes. It’s not that I usually break down and cry or avoid them at all cost, it’s just that I tend to not realize the fullness of something being over until, well, it’s gone. I was all smiles saying goodbye to my sister in a Mexican restaurant parking lot in May of 2012 until she said, “Well, I guess this is the last time I’ll see you before you move to Florida…” and I LOST it. I honestly had not grasped the fact that I was moving 14 hours away until that very moment.
I’m a post-griever.
I remember being at one of my first JMU football games and it hit me SO HARD that I wasn’t in high school color guard anymore. I cried. Where were those tears during my last color guard performance? It just hadn’t sunk in until months after the fact.
Throughout college, every summer, and in grad school, I lived within a few minutes of all of my friends. I saw the same faces on a regular basis: in class, for lunch, at work, in the library — and that was just a typical week day. If I was lonely, I could almost always find someone to meet for dinner or coffee or a drink on the Dave’s rooftop. It was so wonderful to have that built-in community for so many years.
Everyone was so emotional at graduation; they “couldn’t believe it was over,” but I don’t think I really got it. Part of the reason was because while most of my friends were moving away for jobs or moving back home, I had the pleasure of staying in Harrisonburg for work and grad school for a couple more years. Still, even though I wasn’t saying goodbye to the JMU community just yet, I don’t think I really considered how I would not be seeing my friends on that regular of a basis again. Ever. I remember reassuring everyone, “I’ll see you again soon! Really!” But, of course, six years later, I’ll be the first to tell you that wasn’t true. I haven’t seen some of those people since graduation day.
Don’t worry. That’s my sister and my favorite person in the world. We’ve managed to stay in touch 🙂
It’s one of the unexpected challenges of post-graduation “adult” life: keeping up with your friends. It’s been ten years since I graduated from high school, six since I graduated from college, and four since I graduated from grad school. In those years, I’ve lived in Harrisonburg, VA, Washington, D.C., Florida and now North Carolina. With every move, I’ve struggled to stay in touch with my long-distance friends and family.
I say struggle because it’s been a struggle. While some people kind of passively let friendships go (which I think is fine and healthy in a lot of cases) I have done pretty much everything in my power to keep these old friendships alive. I schedule regular Skype dates (or Google Hangout dates!), I write hand-written letters, I’ve implemented text-a-day communications with various groups of friends, and, occasionally I make a good old fashioned phone call. I love getting a letter from a friend I haven’t seen in years. I love hearing how someone’s day is going via text or through a catch-up phone call. It helps, but nothing can replace that neighborly love of being able to knock on a door and grab food together. Life keeps happening even though we’re apart, and sometimes, I really do wish I could live in the same town as my friends and family.
The best catch-up time is always in-person. It just is. That’s why I love weddings. That’s why I love reunions. That’s why I’m so excited for my annual girls weekend that’s coming up in a few weeks!
It’s also why I’m so happy to be living within a few hours (approximately 6) of my hometown. Within the past few years, a lot of my friends have re-migrated back to our hometown and living in North Carolina allows for spontaneous weekend trips which is so different from my Florida life. I’ve only lived here for a month, but in that time I’ve grabbed lunch and dinner with friends I haven’t seen in YEARS and it’s been fantastic.
How do you keep up with long-distance friends? How do you make new friends? It was so much easier in school!