I consider myself fortunate. I’ve always been surrounded by supportive friends and growing up I always had a “best friend.” The term is slightly vague since everyone has a different definition of a best friend, but I use it to mean someone who knows almost every fact about me. A friend who is not only supportive and nurturing, but who also lets me know when I’m not being rational, getting too emotional, or invested in something not worth my time. A friend who will always be there no matter the situation. My friends have come and gone but I feel like my list of “best friends” just grows. It doesn’t matter where we are in the country or in the world, whenever we meet up it seems that we never have even separated.
While the list grows and grows, I feel like there is one person I can always count on. Jaimie and I met relatively late in college but we instantly clicked. We always had fun together, bonded over the fact that we always needed to be moving, and loved exploring new areas together. When I got ready to pack up and move to Boston, I felt like my world as I knew it was suddenly bursting. How could I make it in New England without my best friend?? Jaimie felt my pain but reassured me that she would always be there for me, no matter what.
As my one year anniversary of living on the East Coast has come and gone, I realize how fortunate and truly grateful I am to have a real “best friend” that lives on the opposite side of the country. Through this experience, I’ve learned a lot about friendship and gratitude, patience and kindness. There have been real low points, like when all I wanted was to sit in her living room and cry. There have also been real high points, like the feeling when I got off the plane and gave her a huge hug! Below are just a handful of the best lessons about long distance friendship that I’ve learned so far in this experience.
Real friendships take work, but true friends will stick with you no matter what
This one is an obvious one but oh- so true. I tend to try and push people away before we separate so I don’t miss them as much. It’s always been a painful and a rather selfish move, but has almost always worked. Almost.
In the weeks before my big move, I tried not to spend time with Jaimie because I didn’t want to miss her. Instead of savoring every moment of friendship, I would blow off plans and make excuses. This didn’t fly in the slightest with her (she likes to get things done and doesn’t like lame excuses). She would call me out on my antics and come over regardless. It is exactly what I needed and am truly grateful for her.
Fast forward a year later. We currently both have full time jobs and don’t live a five-minute bus ride away from each other any longer, but we make time to talk to each other. Sometimes I forget our “Skype date.” Sometime she forgets we were supposed to chat on the phone. We get mad at each other for being closed-minded. We get over it and let each other know what’s on our minds. When I just want to sit on the floor and cry, she lifts me up. She sympathizes while still being the voice of reason. Sometimes it feels like a roller coaster, but we always make our friendship work for us.
Sometimes just seeing her face for five minutes is enough and it’s lovely to have someone updating you on life back home
I cannot begin to imagine life without video chatting. Occasionally, it is not enough to talk to her on the phone or text about our days or the cute puppy we saw on the road. Sometimes I just want a friendly face to look at and complain about my stressful day or take pride in something we did well. Even if just for a few minutes, those minutes are special and genuinely valuable. I took for granted being able to walk fifteen minutes to her apartment and being able to complain to her or just sit and sip wine after a long day. Now sitting on Skype with a glass of wine is precious and valuable time I have “spent” with her.
It’s also reassuring knowing that there is someone you love in a place that is familiar and friendly to you. San Francisco is my home. While lame to most people, I love it when she sends me a quick text about the unusually warm weather The City is having. Or a surprise letter that has a Starbucks card with a picture of the Golden Gate Bridge on it. These little reminders show how great it is not only to have a best friends, but one who lives somewhere you love.
Laughter and tears can be caused from 3,000 miles away
Have you ever actually read a text message, email, or note and actually laughed or cried to yourself? I do at least once a week. She definitely does not know this, but she seems to sense exactly when I’m having a bad day and need cheering up. A few months back, it felt like I had hit rock bottom. I was working a job I didn’t like, was close to broke, and battling with the absolutely worst East Coast winter. I opened my mailbox and saw a short, handwritten postcard in it. There wasn’t much on it, but had a stamp with her dog’s paw print on it and a affirming note. That was all I needed to laugh and cry at the same time. Whether it be a corny knock- knock joke she heard from a two-year-old or a simple hello, having a best friend who knows when to cheer you up is the best gift ever.
What about you, dumplings? Do you have a friend who lives far from you?
How do you keep the friendship going?
Also by Karina: 3 Delicious Peach Recipes!
Photo: (cover) Benjamin J. DeLong via Flickr; (in text) Karina Alexander