Lately, I’ve been reflecting on how difficult it is to stay in contact with people I love back home, how on again/off again it all seems to go. “Oh, you’re free this weekend but only at 3 AM my time? Dang, okay, let’s touch base next week.” Inevitably, next week rolls around and one or both of us has forgotten our eager messages to “Stay in touch!” A sort of blameless, never-ending game of tag in which we drift farther apart. My heart aches for all the love I am passively neglecting.
Feeling guilty is at the core of this self-reflection– how can I be a better friend? How can I better manage my time? Yet I’m only half of the equation, half of the reason why its easy to slip into this detachment.
Someone once told me that Peace Corps would be wearisome precisely because everyone back home continues living their lives while you’re away. Life doesn’t freeze because of my absence and while this seems so obvious, it’s an entirely separate thing to actually feel the ramifications of this. And what’s more– my life hasn’t frozen either and I am equally guilty of poor planning and communication.
So instead of feeling bummed about how little I hear from people I was once close to, I’m working on reframing my notions of friendship and closeness. Thinking about my situation as cyclical instead of linear is helping me consider adult friendships in a healthier way.
Instead of my previous model, where friends remain close from the outset to the terminal of the relationship, perhaps it’s more like this: we bump into one another in random patterns, sometimes sticking together for a bit before inevitably separating. But then we bump back into each other and split again, on and on and on. And maybe emotional closeness doesn’t require high frequency of contact, like when you see someone and it feels like you can both pick right back up where you left off. Of these two options, I certainly prefer the latter. It’s nice to think so.
All this is to say I’m letting myself (and everyone I miss) off the proverbial hook. Our lives may be quite different right now, separated by physical and emotional boundaries, but my affection for you endures. The reality is that even if we haven’t spoken in a while, your impact on me remains.
I can’t wait to catch up with you soon.