One of my closest friends from college is coming to town tomorrow. During college we spent two years living in the same apartment building. After college we both moved to Manhattan. For a good three years we lived six blocks apart, which meant we’d go out for brunch or to a movie on a weekend. When we traveled, we’d go over to each other’s apartments to look-in on things, bring in the mail, and water each other’s plants. Nowadays, we live four hours apart and she travels a lot for business, which means we only get to see each other a couple times a year. Therefore, we make the most of our time together. This weekend, we’ll be going to a chocolate tea and hanging out in Hershey while my husband stays home with my daughter. (We’ll meet up with the two of them for dinner at night.) At first I felt bad about leaving them at home so I could have girl time with her, but after reading Kath Gillis’s slice of life about a recent getaway she had with two of her oldest friends, I don’t feel guilty anymore. When she went away she missed some family things, but she didn’t regret it because spending time with some of her treasured friends recharged her spirit. Recharging my spirit: that’s how I’m going to look at the way I spend time with my friends, away from my family, going-forward.
Making good friends is not as easy as it was back in college or in my 20’s. In fact, most of my good friends were made before I turned 30. (Apparently I’m not alone in this belief. Alex Williams published an article in The New York Times last summer entitled “Friends of a Certain Age: Why is it hard to make friends over 30?” It’s worth a read if you’ve ever wondered why most of your enduring friendships were made when you were younger.) Therefore, I work hard to hold on to the incredible friends who have seen me through the best and worst moments of my life. Now that I have a family of my own, it’s more challenging to maintain long-distance friendships due to obligations that take up the majority of my personal time. As a result, I’ve found it takes more than best intentions to maintain friendship with friends who live far away. No longer do I rely on my memory alone. If I did, then I’d forget birthdays, wedding anniversaries, friends’ due dates, and Yahrzeits. Therefore, I use online tools like the Treat Card Reminder and GTasks to help me remember when to send cards or to reach out to my closest friends. This helps me remember to be there for my friends even when I cannot physically be there.
Case in point: November is always a hectic month. Between speaking engagements and hosting Thanksgiving dinner in our home, November feels over-scheduled every single year. This past November, Thanksgiving was an especially hectic time for me and for my best friend whose father was having cancer-related surgery the day before Thanksgiving. Therefore, I wrote a reminder to keep in touch with her throughout the day in my GTasks so I could support her from afar since I didn’t want to let my own busyness impact her when she needed a friend. My task alarm went off throughout the day of her dad’s surgery, which reminded me pause from my own life to support her. We iMessaged back and forth all day long since it was hard for her to talk on the phone in the hospital. Fast forward two days and my daughter had to have surgery. While my best friend’s plate was full from helping her father recover from his surgery (not to mention caring for her three children), she made the time to call me the afternoon of my daughter’s surgery to see how she was recovering. Her phone call meant more to me than I can explain because she was there to support me despite the fact that she, too, needed support.
My dearest friends are spread out across the Earth. From Arizona and California to New England and New York to Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, I find it challenging to be there for my closest friends when we no longer live in the same place. Cards, phone calls, e-mails, Face Time, and Skype do fill some of the void. I can wish and wish and wish to live closer to my dearest friends, but the likelihood of living in the same city with all of them again is highly unlikely. Therefore, long-distance correspondence and occasional visits will have to suffice.
If you haven’t done so recently, I encourage you to pick up the phone or connect your webcam so you can recharge your spirit by reconnecting with one of your dear friends who lives far away. It is my hope that you, too, will find your soul renewed when you spend time catching up with an old friend.
Despite your family and work obligations, how do you make time for your closest friends? Please share your tips by leaving a comment.
This is the fourth in a series of six posts about taking care of yourself and others.
Post 3: Be Present
Post 4: Hitting the Reset Button
Please come back on Thursday, February 28th for the final post in this miniseries.