One of my most treasured pastimes is boiling water so I can steep my favourite tea while placing a couple of snacks on a plate. In the background, you can hear the rhythmic beeping of a dial tone, which will soon be replaced by the voice of a dear friend. The absolute best moment is when you finally sit down in front of your computer, and the beautiful face of your friend appears on the screen. At that moment, even if you’re an ocean away from each other, it feels as if you’re in the same room.
Long-distance relationships, whether romantic or platonic, are hard (I’ve been in both, so I know). Not being able to see your person every day or talk at convenient times for both of you makes building a stable foundation challenging. I can’t count the number of conversations that have spanned several days because when I send a message, the other person is asleep, and when they reply, I’m sleeping. These relationships take intentionality because you can’t sit idly by and hope that the memories of your time together in person are enough to sustain your connection once you’re apart.
Some of my best friends don’t live in the same city, province, time zone, or country as me. We were on two separate journeys until our paths crossed, and now our lives have been intertwined ever since. While we might not talk every day, we share the most important parts of our lives, and I know that they’ll always be there for me through thick and thin. Long-distance friendships may be some of the hardest to keep alive and vibrant, but they are some of the most rewarding. The beautiful thing about true friendship is the way that it continues to grow even if you’re not interacting with that person on a daily bases. It’s like a seedling that you water and fertilize but never notice it growing until one day you turn around and your little seed has grown into a full-fledged plant.
There’s a saying that absence makes the heart grow fonder, and while it sounds cliché, I agree with that sentiment. When I finally get to see my people after months or years apart, it feels like my heart is going to explode in my chest. The joy that courses through my veins makes every nerve in my body vibrate and causes me to love my friends even more than I thought possible. Every single one of my long-distance friends is near to my heart because we’ve been through so much together, even if we are physically apart. Our desire to stay connected and stay together is what keeps our relationship moving forward even if we aren’t interacting every day.
While hard, long-distance friendships offer so much enrichment for our lives. Not only are we sharing our hearts with someone of a potentially different cultural background, but we’re mindfully engaging in putting other people first and intentionally working towards deepening and strengthening our relationship. The fastest way to kill any friendship is to believe that you have no part in the maintaining of it. The quickest way to enrich a bond is to open up and be present and intentional with the other person.
I can’t count the number of letters, packages, skype dates, planned vacations, missed calls, forgotten texts, late replies, and important life updates that have passed between my friends and myself. But I wouldn’t trade a single one of those long-distance friendships for a hundred friends that lived right around the corner from me. These are my people, and some of them live on the other side of the world (but never so far away we can’t visit each other with some proper planning). Please don’t let the distance scare you away from pursuing meaningful relationships because you might get some of the best friendships out of it. I know I sure have.