the past few weeks have been filled with people. people that have been a part of my life from a very young age. people you don’t realize you miss as much as you do until you see them. people that even though life has sent you in very different directions, it only takes a few minutes to fall right back into your groove.
i was sitting in a ten-year-old’s bedroom in morganstown, west virginia. her walls are teal, and her shelves are lined with books and board games and photos and accents that show her personality. i remember when she didn’t have a personality. when she was a baby, and i would make her my subject for my high school photography class. and now, she is ten.
i have known her mother since second grade. spent all of second, third, and most of fourth grade with her standing alongside as i played my part of queen bee. in the middle of fourth grade, she moved away.
that is when it began.
no matter how far away they were.
in fifth grade, i boarded my very first airplane all by myself and flew to columbus, ohio over christmas break to see my friend. not because my mom suggested it, but because i knew it was a relationship worth making an effort to keep.
sixteen years later, and i still cannot help but board a plane and see my friend.
she returned to my school in sixth grade, and we finished out middle school with big boobs and even bigger attitudes. after graduating eighth grade, life took us in different directions, but i could never let the roads drift too far apart. airfare is a small price to pay to feel laughter that you know is real. to have shared memories that have shaped you both. to be reminded that distance cannot erase a bond.
it is known amongst my friends that i try my best to stay in touch. it might only be once a year that i get a chance to fly across the country to see them, but they know that i will always make the effort. but does a visit once a year, a birthday and christmas card, and a few phone calls here and there really equal a meaningful friendship?
in college, i had a friend who called me out on this. he was upset with me because i referred to him as one of my good friends yet didn’t really see or talk to him more than a couple times a month even though we lived on the same college campus, minutes apart from each other.
it was my senior year of college when we had this conversation. this startling realization that although most people praised me for flying to visit them in idaho falls or los angeles or indianapolis or austin or jackson hole or new york city, here was someone in my local community telling me that i was not investing enough. i was spread too thin. my past relationships from childhood and high school were impeding my ability to create those types of bonds with my college friends.
that thought has stayed with me for the past four years, but once again it is starting to take on a deeper meaning.
i have been on the go for the past seven months. traveling, yes. but more than traveling, seeing the people that are meaningful to me. the only travel i have done that was for travel sake was my month in india. the rest of the time has been spent cultivating and celebrating my friends and family.
time and distance tend to separate us, change us. the people that were close to us in high school, might not be the people that we want to hold close to us now. the people that were close to us in college, might not stay in contact as they get married and have children. i am learning to morph into the shifting roles of my relationships. i am also learning which ones continue to change who i am. those are the ones worth keeping. the mutual growth and love.
we hung out by the pool in her west virginia townhouse community and had girl talk. i had not seen her in three years and had maybe talked to her once a year on the phone in that time. we both delved into our successes and challenges of the past few years, and i had a moment where i thought, why didn’t i know all this? why didn’t you call me when this was happening?
she is always a reminder for me in my life. she has been since the day i met her in second grade. her lack was a reminder of my plenty. her cynicism was a reminder of my optimism. her responsibility was a reminder of my freedom. our consistency has always been a reminder of love. the kind of love between sisters. we fight. we make up. we laugh. we cry. we talk each other down from the ledge or push each other when it’s time to fly. but we are on different paths in life. i am grateful that i have always had someone in my life to remind me of the differences we face in life. she is also a reminder that some bonds don’t dissolve regardless of time and distance.
two close friends got married while i was home. one on a farm in the middle of nowhere michigan. one at a golf club in the suburbs of chicago. a perfect representation of the juxtaposition of the people that fill my life. both weddings were perfect for that person and their loved ones.
i was honored to be in the bridal party of one of them. a mutual friend of ours and i got to talking (as most unmarried girls do) about who we would put in our bridal party. it’s always an interesting exercise. who are those females who mean the most to you? the ones you would want to stand next to you for support as you make one of the biggest decisions of your life.
she stated that even though i was faraway and only saw her a few times a year, i would definitely be there by her side. i felt the same. i have known her since i was six, and like my time in west virginia, my time in st. charles reminded me of the close relationships that have made me who i am and continue to do so.
thank you for that reminder.