A long time ago, someone I thought was a good friend turned out not to be when she said that friendships are “geographically temporary”. Because we no longer lived in the same town, there wasn’t any point in staying friends. That was in another country, and besides, the wench, while not dead, is long unlamented. But I’ve staunchly argued for years the error of her ways.
Of course friends aren’t geographically temporary, not necessarily. Real friendship transcends barriers. Two of my best friends and I have not lived in the same zip code since 1994. Others have moved away and I’ve moved nearer to them. Some friends very dear to my heart have always been an Internet connection away. Distance makes things difficult, but it doesn’t make feelings nonexistant. I met and fell in love with my husband from across the state. And the three years we spent dating long distance was a heck of a lot harder than I could have imagined, but I never once thought of giving up on how I felt for him. Sometimes you have to make an effort when you’re not seeing each other every day, every week, or every month. You have to adjust, but you don’t have to let go.
It doesn’t always work out, though, I guess. Moving here to Long Island has been a little challenging in a number of ways I didn’t expect (oh dear god the accent) but the one I didn’t see coming at all was the way some friendships have started to fade away. It’s 2014, after all, and it’s easier to stay in touch with people than it’s ever been. You’ve got email and text and Skype and Facebook and Twitter; there’s still no teleportation, but it’s damn close. When I was in my twenties I had to keep in touch with my friends through very expensive long distance phone calls, or through — brace yourself — actual real written and mailed letters. While of course we’re all a little relieved it’s easier and cheaper to stay in touch now, I’d venture to say we’d do it again if we had to, because those friendships are invaluable. So when someone stops keeping in touch with you now, when it’s easy, when it takes so little effort… well, the reverse is clearly true, isn’t it?
I’m no saint, and I’ve probably dropped the ball on staying in touch with someone, myself. Maybe I was thoughtless, or maybe, in complete honesty, I meant to. Maybe I’ve put effort into maintaining friendships that mattered the most to me, and let others fall by the wayside. I probably have. We probably all have. Still, while it might be only human, it still hurts. It’s that age-old feeling you get in your stomach when you realize someone meant more to you than you meant to them. It’s a universal experience we’ve all had, from grade school on up — whether it’s a kid in your class, a boy, a girl, a friend, a date, a colleague or anything in between, it always feels exactly the same way whenever you realize that the object of your affection returns the favor with less enthusiasm than your own, and most likely always has.
I don’t think friendship is geographically temporary. But I’m forced to admit that some friendships don’t last and probably weren’t meant to, whether you stayed put or not. Sometimes geography is an easy out, and if that’s the case, then it’s for the best. Happily, though, the reverse is true, and a good friend stays with you no matter how far you go or how long you’ve been away. So thanks, my non-geographical friends, for hanging in there.