There is nothing that makes me appreciate my friendships more than living far away and having to work to keep them alive. There is nothing that makes me feel closer to my friends than moving to a new place and knowing no one.
Yet, the longer I live away from home, the easier it becomes to let friendships slip away. The friends that remain are the people I have fought to keep in my life.
Once you start to move around, you find yourself constantly having to start over with meeting people and making friends. You have a new appreciation for the friendships you do have. You savor the ease you feel with your old friends, the jokes you share, the hundreds of pictures you’ve taken together. And you realize that you need to make it a point to work to maintain these friendships.
It’s not always easy. Sometimes it requires my friends to get up at 7am to have breakfast with me, because I am only in town for a few days, and that’s the only time I have. Sometimes it requires advance planning, trying to remember time differences, taking time out of a tired evening for a phone call, or sending a card in the mail. Sometimes it requires traveling long distances to spend just a few days together. Sometimes it even requires fights, tears, and conversations that are hard. But I can say that even though I have lived far from most of my friends for the past 2.5 years, I feel close to them. And I think that is in large part due to the work we have had to invest in them.
Whether you live next door or across the globe, you need to nurture your friendships. Our friendships often become a last priority when life gets busy. Sometimes, I think it is even easier to neglect a friend who is nearby, because we know they are always around. We feel like it’s okay to put off that dinner date with them when we are just so darn tired, because we always have next week or next month.
I can tell you that I have some friends who I saw more often when I lived in Hawaii than when I lived only a few miles away from them. Because whenever I came home, we made it a point to spend time together. When I lived close by, months and months could go by as I just went through the motions, putting off that time with them.
I have some amazing friends who have built me up and made me stronger. These friends have put their lives on hold to make mine better. They make me laugh until my stomach hurts. They support me while my husband goes away on deployments. They get me in ways my husband never will.
So today, I want to celebrate the effort, the work, and the love that goes into deepening our friendships. We put so much effort into our relationships with our family, with our significant other, and even with our coworkers, and I think that our friends often get the short end of the stick.
Celebrate your friendships. Give your friends a call just to see how they are doing. Text them a silly picture. Send them a funny card that made you think of them. Remember when something big is happening in their lives and ask them about it. If you live close by, go out for dessert. Or invite them over to drink wine in your pajamas. If you live far away, make a plan to see each other and make it happen.
Above all, know that a good friend is worth fighting for, worth working hard for. Because good friends don’t come by too often. A friend who has stuck by you over the years, not out of any obligation, not because they have to see you at the family reunion, but because they love you, is a friend worth celebrating.
The women who stood next to me at my wedding were two close friends and my sister-in-law. Photo by Basia Ambroziak.