My Faraway Friend & I Have the Secret to Long-Distance Friendship

Woman on phone

The thing about living in New York is that people keep leaving. This often happens somewhere around the 10-year mark, when stuff like quality of life and cost of living start edging out all those other ideas we had in our heads when we came here for school as 18-year-olds. It's interesting to watch it happen and read articles about it, but the problem is that for those of us who are still here, we have to watch our friends take off to faraway, distant lands. Like Ohio, or Chicago ...


... or, in the case that sticks out to me the most, California. One of my best buds -- whom I met in NYC in college -- first left us all for Chicago a little before her 10 years were up. That seemed bad enough, but her move to the Windy City somehow eventually turned into a full-on transplanting to the Golden State, and then it got very real. She really was never coming back; she was, in fact, trying to get farther and farther away.

And I get it -- I do! The sunny skies and fresh air of California sound lovely. And even when you make a life somewhere and find the kind of friends you thank your lucky stars for (as I like to imagine my friend did during her time in the Big Apple), there's no guarantee you're going to stick around forever. And at that point in a friendship, it can be very easy for two close pals to slowly drift off. A few e-mails a month suddenly turn into an e-mail every few months. Before you know it, you're not even sure if it's awkward or not to comment on her Facebook stuff anymore.

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But the cool thing is that in our case, my Cali friend and I simply continued to keep each other in our day-to-day lives -- as if nothing had really changed, in a way. And it was effortless.

If I had a random thought, I would email it to her. Sometimes that meant several short emails all within a span of a few hours. By the time I got around to finally purchasing a smartphone two summers ago (I'm a technology holdout -- so call me pisher!), I would text her things I stumbled across in New York and found amusing. An offensively terrible and hilarious subway ad? I'd take a pic and text it. The jacket I saw in a store and thought about buying? Now she could see it too and let me know what she thought. While I'll be the first person to say it's a bit soul-crushing to see people always glued to their mobile devices, I think taking your phone out of your bag now and then to keep in contact with your closest buddy seems all right. We have the technology now -- we might as well use it in the best ways we can.

One of my favorite things now is live-watching our favorite shows together via text. It's so funny to me how my friend across the country will be able to tell you what my immediate reaction was to [NAME REDACTED] being killed off on The Walking Dead before a friend in my own neighborhood can.

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If there's a funny GIF I encounter in a work e-mail, she's going to see that GIF too. If I stumble across a pic online from 2005 of two train-wreck celebrities falling out of a club while decked out in glorious mid-'00s fashions, I'm going to text it to her without words and I know she'll just get it. The day-to-day random things we see and do -- the kind of things we might casually mention when we meet for coffee with the friend who lives down the street -- why can't we still share that with the people who now live thousands of miles away?

She's still going to know about the big stuff, too. But (thankfully) there are many days when big stuff doesn't happen, and it's just the little things we experience along the way and want to share with our closest buddies that make friendships so intimate and invaluable. My BFF might live on the opposite coast, but when I'm on the subway and something reminds me of her and I can share that with her, it's like she's sitting right there next to me, trying to also hold in her laughter on her morning commute and avoid eye contact with other New Yorkers at all costs.


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