I got a question yesterday about whether or not Paul and I have made friends in this new town and then that reminded me of another question from awhile back about how I keep up long-distance friendships. I thought I'd use today's post to address both.
The answer to the first question is yes, we have. It's (mostly) a mirage that we're hermits. As it turns out, deployment will help you make some lasting friendships and Paul came home knowing some really rad men & women. I have been able to meet them and their spouses many times (at organized base functions & out to dinner). And they are good people. Very good. It's nice to know people who are in a similar boat and hear how they dealt with and are dealing with the realities of military life.
But the truth is that right now my close friends do not live in my town.
In both high school & college, I had strong groups of girlfriends who I am fortunate to still be close to now. When we lived in Maryland, and I worked at a paper store, my co-workers were fantastic creative people that I got along with really well. I actually looked forward to seeing them all day at work and going out for drinks after.
Since moving back to California, I have been able to catch up with my "old" friends more often (many are in LA), but I have not yet met a new core group of people who live right near me. This is something that I absolutely have to work on because I miss having girlfriends nearby. I miss the ease that comes with best friends who live in your town.
The only way to get that back, of course, is to make an effort (since school or work can't do it for me) and find the folks with whom I click. I have to put myself out there which sometimes is hard for me because I am such a creature of habit. So while I am trying that, I also work to keep my existing long-distance friendships healthy.
Usually this is just through email. Plain old email. I exchange hundreds of emails a month with my girlfriends. Gmail makes it super simple to have conversation threads and so our emails run much like our normal conversations... one line responses - most hilarious. It makes discussions feel relatively normal despite the distance.
I rely a lot on twitter & instagram. I don't spend much time on facebook, so these are my social media information overloads of choice. It's easy to stalk people keep tabs on friends through their twitter and instagram feeds. Often the photos and thoughts shared are not the things that would make it into an email, but they are the things that make up their daily lives. And when you're long distance, the daily stuff is the best stuff.
I also I send a lot of cards. Usually they are short, sweet and to the point. Sometimes the point is that I just found the perfect maxi dress.
I try to make frequent plans (every month or every few months) with the friends that live in LA (about 60 miles away). Dinners, brunches, anything to touch base again and remember how important our friendships are. And last, but not least, I try to never miss an event. Wedding, graduation party, reunion in Vegas, whatever - I'm going. Nothing keeps the friendships alive like a 48 hour weekend with seven girls in a hotel room. Sometimes they are expensive. Sometimes they are inconvenient time-wise, but they are an absolute priority for me.
Clearly, it all takes effort. Both making new friends & keeping the old.
I am also so grateful for the friends that I have met online over the past few years - many through this blog! I think all the sharing that happens here, on twitter and through email is part of why I don't stress too much over finding new "real life" friends. It might not make sense to everyone, but my online friendships are very real to me.
I would love it if you want to share your own suggestions for finding new friends (post-school years!!) or maintaining existing friendships in the comments.
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