I have been struggling lately with the idea of ‘friends.’ Don’t get me wrong, my friends are absolutely amazing and I love every one of them so much, but I have been living away from most of them for the past few months. and missing them dearly.
So what I have been wondering about: is it better to have friends that live in the same place as you, or to move to new places to make new friends but leave your old friends behind?
I have my friends from my hometown that I grew up with and no matter how long I am away, when I come home they welcome me with open arms and we hang out and talk about the past and the present but I feel so guilty that I haven’t been there for the everyday things for so long that I feel like I have missed big parts of their lives. Many of these friends are newly married, and new parents, and I, being away from home, miss out on a lot milestones. However, I have the need to travel and cannot dedicate my life to staying in my hometown, even it means missing many of these milestones.
Then there are the friends that I meet from travelling or living abroad. Often when you travel and meet new people, friendships are accelerated. I had a group of friends on my first trip to Italy whom I spent everyday together with for a month, we became like family and shared things about our lives in that short month that are beyond what many friends I have known for years know about me. You get to look at life from a removed point of view, and get new points of view from unbiassed opinions, different than talking to people who are directly involved with many of the situations who make you who you are. This happened to me on a summer abroad in Montreal where I bawled my eyes out the day we all left each other for the airport, and didn’t realize how fast our life together would come to a close.
Then I have my friends in Beijing, some of who I spent every weekend with for two or three years. I consider these friends family, we spent countless hours working, living, and playing in China, getting to know everything about each other, seeing relationships form, consoling the homesickness, going on adventure, travelling, dealing with the frustrations of living abroad, and just being there for each other. But of course we do not stay forever in foreign lands, many friends over that time left, and when my time came to leave Beijing, I didn’t realize how hard it would be to keep in touch.
Then I have my friends who I have met on my travels. A beach in Thailand, a music festival in Portugal, a hostel in Australia, or a night out in Bali. These people are the ones that you instantly connect with. You separate from the group in the hostel and share days of talking over coffee, exploring new places, and partying until the sun comes up. But then you all have to leave to your next destination, add each other to Facebook, and hardly speak, but hopefully, because you are both travellers, you will eventually end up in another place together to share another epic night out, and the brunch afterwards to rehash what has been going on in your lives since the last time you saw them. I wonder what it would have been like in a time before Facebook and email. Would I have been able to stay in contact with all these people and so easily, see a status update and realize you are in the same town and can meet up?
When my mom was my age she travelled through Australia and met many people in the same way that I do, but for her, they had to stay friends through changing phone numbers and addresses. How hard must that have been!? Sometimes I think about deleting my facebook. I have issues with privacy, especially being a teacher. I wonder how many of these 800 or whatever, “friends” really need to see that picture of me posing beside a famous landmark, sipping a cocktail on a beach, or having a family reunion. But then I think, these people who I have ‘friended’ were important to me at sometime in my life and we live in an amazing time where technology can keep us together, and give us the ability to travel, whilst keeping relations with people who are thousands of kilometres away. What an amazing thing! I still remember when Skype first came out. “You mean I can see them, talk to them, and it’s free!?” Well, I think that put me over the travel edge for good.
But still, it is hard. I am so grateful for every person that I have met on my travels, and know that each of them has brought something to my life, and hopefully I to theirs. I don’t like to say that I get ‘homesick’ for it is not ‘home’ that I miss, but my friends, so perhaps I just have a temporary case of being ‘friendsick.’
I usually steer away from oversimplified motivational quotes or whatnot, but there are some that I really like and stick with me. I heard one recently that really resonates with me because when it comes down to it, I know, that time or distance never changes a thing with my friends. I love when those little daily reminders happen that make me think of you, wonder what you are doing, send positive thoughts to you, and smile knowing we will make new memories in the future.
Here’s the quote:
“A strong friendship doesn’t need daily conversation or being together. As long as the relationship lives in the heart, true friends never part.”
peace and love to my friends all over the globe, new, old and to be found…