The 'Day One' Who Isn't There Everyday
By now you must know about my best friend, Anna. She and I have been best friends for 20 years and counting. We have also been living across the country from each other for three years...and counting.
Anna and I have made many more friends in our new cities because we are incredibly likable. We have boyfriends and our own lives while away from each other. Although there are times when I get really jealous of her life. Often, it happens when I see her post a picture or maybe an Instagram story of her and her friends in Oregon. She reminds me that I’m her “day one”. Regardless of title, I am nostalgic about the times we’ve had over the past two decades. We have traveled together and we have fought and we have danced and we have said “goodbye” so many times and it never gets any easier.
We don’t talk everyday and even when we do, sometimes it will just be “hey, have a good day, I love you!” and leave it at that until we’re free to find time to talk again.
I remember when I was a kid, my mom would have dinner with friends that she hadn’t seen “in, like 20 years!” and my internet-era mind thought, how could that be possible? I felt so (virtually) connected for a majority of my life that the idea of being “out of touch” was foreign to me.
I received my first cell phone as a gift on my 12th birthday. It was hidden in a big box that was filled with tissue paper and heavy books so I wouldn’t guess it was a phone. It was a gray flip phone.
A text became an affirmation. Texting turned into conversations, love letters, job offers, scrapbooks and bullying and insecurities and heightened expectations for low-stakes situations.
I am reminded of how fleeting and impersonal texting is and even calling is the same way. I can contact Anna by calling, texting, FaceTiming, even writing letters and nothing will feel how it did when we would sit across from each other in her living room, laughing about nothing but it was everything to us. Cell phones are convenient but it isn’t a connection. Checking in with someone I had grown up loving is nowhere near the same as actually being with them.
Though it is inevitable to drift from people we love, it will still catch me off guard and tugs at my heartstrings. I have never actually felt disconnected from Anna but to grasp the idea of growing apart is unthinkable. We won’t actually grow apart, I don’t think. There isn’t a day or circumstance where I could imagine saying or thinking, “I don’t have to time for you” to Anna. But there will be days when we won’t go directly to each other for advice; we will call other people our ‘best friend’ and we might not talk for however long, we might forget things about each other. Be it a funny fact or a story, we might not remember. We might live across the country from each other for the rest of our lives.
I’m really not sure what we will do. This is my first time living life, as far as I know, so I don’t have many answers. Will I always remember her birthday? What if I’m absurdly busy on July 5th and I, instead, call her at noon on July 6th? What if we forget important dates or aren’t able to be there for major life changes or events?
What if I have to catch up with Anna in 10 years? She’d be visiting New York or I’d be visiting Oregon. We would go to dinner and talk about our respective relationships and break ups and jobs and successes and failures.
Relationships with people are the most important thing in my life and it makes me shudder to think of losing one so meaningful to me.
It makes sense to treat this long distance relationship like a romantic one, because it kind of is. We have to put more effort into this, more so than when we lived five minutes away from each other. We often reminisce on times spent together but how are we able to create new memories when we are so far apart?
We can always romanticize and imagine what it would be like to live near each other again, without struggle or anxiety; what would our lives be like if we were exactly where we wanted to be as adults? In our careers and our personal lives and in love and in food. And we could be together and thrive in our successes and our lessons that we’ve learned? That’s the sweet spot in my mind for keeping our friendship fresh.
What are the possibilities for the future of our friendship? There are trips to plan, maybe weddings, showers and what kind of “Office” references I will include in my Maid of Honor speech at her wedding and/or bachelorette party...oh my God, I forgot about the bachelorette party…
So often, I feel that talking about the future will scare me like if I spew my hopes that I will jinx it. Who will be there, who won’t? Will I get where I want to be or will I still be fighting for it?
While diving into these thoughts, I actually find comfort and not fear. I roll with the punches anytime they’re thrown at me. So, to think, instead of loss, I try to think of possibility.