I went to college far away from my hometown. Then after graduation I moved back. This left me with many good friends who lived too far to go visit on a weekend. I live in southern Indiana, but I have friends who live in Illinois, Missouri, Iowa, Colorado, Massachusetts, North Dakota, California and even Africa! I work in child care and that means essentially that I have the bare minimum of vacation days, so planning a get together is difficult. It has been a roller coaster of emotions trying to deal with the separation. Here is how I have learned to cope.
1. Text all the time
I know this should go without saying, but sometimes you’re too busy that you can’t even take a second to shoot off a quick message. One of my best friends runs her own flower shop and it’s hard for her to find time to talk. Phone calls happen once a month if that. However she finds time to randomly text me – when she’s in the bathroom. It’s multitasking at its best and pretty darn hilarious.
2. Write letters
It may sound old fashioned of me, but I take pleasure in sitting down and actually writing a letter to my friends. Not just a little measly paragraph, but multiple pages. It shows them that you care enough about to take time out of your day and write. With an actual pen and paper. Not a computer.
3. Send presents
Collect items you know they’d like: teacups, romance novels, vintage jewelry, socks, Harry Potter paraphernalia. My friend that lives near Canada sends me Canadian chocolate. It is by far my favorite thing to get in the mail. There’s just something about getting a package of goodies from your bestie, whether it’s on your birthday or plain old Tuesday.
This one is quite difficult for me. I’ve always worked jobs that make it hard to take off with just a couple vacation days a year. I’m lucky to have friends who are able to come visit me in their spare time. Although, one of my dearest friends is currently teaching in Tanzania. It is much easier to stay in touch when we are on the same continent.
5. Trade clothes until your next meeting
My roommate from college did this with me one summer. We were roughly the same size, so we borrowed each other’s jeans. I was going through a lot that summer and she sent me a package. There were my jeans with a beautiful embroidered pattern she had designed herself. It was a gesture that cloaked me in strength and love.
6. Go on a grand adventure
My idea of a grand adventure that usually happens when I get together with a group of friends is getting a tattoo. I have seven tattoos and almost all of them happened when I reunited with people I hadn’t seen in awhile. The summer after my aunt passed away, I met up with friends in Illinois. I got a memorial for my aunt and my friend got one for her grandpa. There’s something about a tattoo that makes a bond even stronger.
7. Send music
This is something that sort of goes along with sending presents, but slightly different. My friend was in the Peace Corps and it was really tough to communicate because of the lack of internet where she was stationed. Pretty much the only way we could get through to each other was by snail mail. I sent her a flash drive with music on it that reminded me of her or that I knew she would like. That was something that brought us closer even though we were so far apart.
I don’t do this often enough. It’s pretty awesome seeing your friend or loved one’s face even though they’re miles away. This goes for not only friendships, but family and long distance relationships too. My roommate in college made sure to have a Skype date with her parents once a week and I know it brought a great deal of comfort to her and her family.