Part of the allure of living in Flagstaff is that most of us are transplants to this lovely mountain town; but the downside of that fact is that it means we have all left wonderful friendships behind in other cities. I won’t lie, I cherish my friends from college and adulthood so very much, but letting them know how much I’m thinking about them is sometimes easier said than done. Thank goodness for electronics and apps that make this process so much easier!
Here are a few tips to manage friendships, long-distance.
Group texting – Ok, I’ll be the first to admit that the thought of a huge group text message makes my skin crawl; but apps like GroupMe make group texting so doable. A separate app that can be viewed on its own and with alerts that can be customized makes this a great way to stay in contact with a larger group of people with very little effort. I have a few groups going with my friends from college, one for asking mom questions (which is amazing!) and also one for just being silly and sharing about our lives.
These chats have saved me a million times over, want to ask about the best way to travel with a toddler? Check. Want to relive the silly memory facebook just shared with you? Check. Want to complain about your significant other to the people who have known you the longest? Check. This helps keep all of us connected in a causal real-time way that makes us feel like we never left the sorority house.
Photo sharing – Thanks to smartphones we always have a camera in our pocket! Shared photo albums are THE BEST! If you don’t already have a photo album set up, be it iPhoto or dropbox, do it! Keep those precious photos of your little safe on the cloud, and bonus, share a link with your friends who aren’t here to see your little in real time. I love this feature because I can causally creep around on my friends photos; and they can do the same with mine. I think we have like 30 people subscribed to Mae’s photostream. I feel like this is a great way for everyone to be involved in those little moments that don’t make it into social media posts, and it’s really nice to feel a part of the loop. My husband thinks it’s creepy but really I think it is a lifesaver and a time saver. Now I don’t have to post on a family blog or send out emails with a million pictures attached, people can just peruse at the leisure. Everyone wins!
Snail mail/gifts – Remember when you learned how to write a friendly letter in third grade? Wasn’t that your favorite writing assignment? It was always my favorite one to teach back in the day. Writing a letter and sending it in the mail gives me serious joy, and getting a letter back in the mail, *commence happy dance*. My best friend is an M.D. and her medical school journey took her all over the country and we fell into the habit of sending really dumb cards to each other every so often. It was so great! Now I hunt out silly, quirky or beautiful cards to send to all my friends who are far away. The hunt for a great card is part of the fun I think! I also have gotten into sending tiny gifts to friends and family. All the cool little stores in Flag offer lots of great gifts that I love to give and people love to get, but Amazon is also amazing.
Have a great new round brush that you’re obsessed with? Send it to your bestie! Found some cute clearance jammies at target that will fit your friends newest little? Send it. Gurl! Nothing reminds someone of how much you love them as a tangible item like a card or a thoughtful gift.
Learn when to let go – Your time is precious. What little time you have should be given to things that bring you joy and make your life more whole. I have a few friends who will always be in my heart, but they just can’t reciprocate my love long distance; and that OK. I use to hold on to frustration that people wouldn’t call me back or seemed to not engage with me on the level that I wanted, but if I have learned anything in life it is that you can’t change anyone else, you can only change yourself. So taking a quick re-frame of that friendship might be necessary. I’m not saying you will never be friends again; but I’m saying right now might not be your golden hour of friendship.
A true and wonderful friend will always be there and you’ll be able to reconnect some other time, or you’ll lose touch and you won’t miss that friendship because your new contacts are bringing more light into your life.