Long Distance Friendships And The Pain Of Drifting Apart
It’s the cliché naïve thing to do in my opinion: promise each other that nothing is ever going to change. We looked each other in the eye and promised we’d always keep in touch like our daily alarm, we promised to remain each other’s locked-up secret diary and to stay as childish as when we would prank each other by sending inappropriate text messages to our crushes. “I’m going to kill you!” I’d shout from the end of the hallway and then catch a glimpse of her laugh while she’d run away screaming “Catch me if you can!”. Fast forward to five minutes later and you’re sharing a pizza and talking about how you don’t think you’re going to pass your upcoming maths test. You laugh about that too because it’s just better that way.
One morning you open your eyes and stare at the white ceiling. Then come to the realisation that nothing is the same and you too fell for it; those spur-of-the-moment promises.
The realisation doesn’t occur right from the moment you get on that low-budget plane ride. You stare out the window enchanted by the wonder of the view from the top of the world which leaves you to think about all the places your feet will touch, the people you’ll meet and the endless possibilities you may encounter in the new land. The thought occurs to you once, “I wish they could all see this, and we could add this to the log of super-cool experiences”, but then you quickly let it go because wishes only make goodbyes hurt even more. The high eventually comes to an end, then, you touchdown and reality begins.
High neck Sweater: Primark
Surplice Fit &Flare Olive Dress: Forever 21
In the beginning stages, you keep all the promises. You tell all the stories with as much detail as you humanly possibly can with Facetime and Whatsapp video calls becoming your actual best friend. Every little thing that happens, you instantly turn into a voice memo with all the built-up emotion still intact, and likewise, they are fascinated by all your ‘new’ like you are by theirs.
Then it happens; the first “I’ll ring you back later”, the first “sorry I got to go”, the first Silence.
The first turns into the second and the second into the third and all of a sudden, it’s the norm. you realise it’s been a week since you’ve caught up and while you wonder what happened with that guy she was hung up on, you realise you’re running late to something important and you decide to text later.
You don’t text after all, because later you make a fool of yourself in public which kills your whole vibe and you end up getting tied up with all the other stuff you have going on.
On the flip side, a lot is going on with them too and they get tied up too with heartbreaks, family drama, exams and every other great and horrible thing life throws their way. Due to this, communication becomes delayed, you learn about certain things weeks later and you tell some things months later. That’s how the silence becomes natural to you and to all the others. Communication is delayed and likewise, laughter is delayed, shared pain is also delayed and in the end, the relationship gets delayed too.
It could turn into a cycle where you find yourself constantly being directed to voicemail and getting replies at the worst possible moments like when you’re at sleep or when you’re finally about to be kissed. Cue the unwelcome interruption!
Some friends are different from others. While with some the magic gets lost with the wind, others catch it as it blows away. They text you about the most embarrassing moment at the oddest of times causing you to laugh out loud like a crazy person at a group meeting. They send you unexpected meme-type pictures of their cat and make you jealous about the fact that they are seated under the sun on the beach while you’re hiding away from the cats-and-dogs-type rain inside your bedroom.
With these types of friends, the magic is probably never going to be lost and that assurance is the reason you don’t need to talk each and every day to know you’re still on the same team. When you get on the plane headed back home, they are the first contact on your phone to know you’ll be back and they’re the first to catch your eye and tell you exactly what has changed about you and you do the same. You then travel through the memories of it all whilst creating new ones to reminisce about on the next memory trip. It is bittersweet knowing you’ll never be back there, in that space or time, but it’s comforting to know that you were there once and that’s a time you’ll always have.
The most painful part of long-distance is watching a relationship go from full-bloom to withered leaves. You watch it as it dies. Slowly. Gradually. Unexpectedly.
You do all you can to turn the tide, to flip the script, to change the ending even though you know, and you know all too well that some things are meant to stay broken. You get fed crumbs, but you still try to eat them because you remain stuck in the past where all the good old memories remain.
Next, you wonder how you got there. Did the silence last too long or did you do too little? Did you do a little too much? Could you have said one thing differently? Should you have held on just a little longer?
These are the questions I ask myself some nights…
Your restless romantic roamer