When I scroll through the photographs on my phone, I get a real snapshot of how much things have changed in the last few years. In fact, I often catch myself riding down memory lane whenever I’m feeling particularly nostalgic of the times I had in the past. A classic Italian track by Tiziano Ferro, a cup of red fruits tea I always get from Milan and photo libraries or old albums – those always seem to take me straight back to simpler times and rosy memories.
There’s something particularly simple about an old picture. The uncomplicated nature of being captured in a space and time you can never have back; frozen, trapped in a person you once were. It’s weird to me how one image can bring back to life a flood of forgotten or suppressed emotions. It can remind you of times you wish you could stay in forever, a taste you hoped you could savour, a gentle touch you thought you’d always feel on your skin.
One thing I love about old photos is seeing the people that surrounded me in various times of my life. It can feel like a history book where time never stops flowing and people always walk in and out of the picture. This happens to everyone in life, but I feel like when you live a life that never seems to really settle down in one place for a long time, the people in the photographs change a lot more often.
I was in Italy for a few days last month, and while I spent the majority of my time chasing office open hours and official documents, I also got to see a few familiar faces I hadn’t in what felt like the longest time.
As you may know, I’ve already written about the painful nature of long-distance friendships before, and this trip made me grateful for the friends I do still have over there. There’s something cool about seeing a person after a long time has gone by and it feeling like nothing changed. I got to embarrass myself like I would any other day, talk about the latest updates in my life and in some instances, I felt like I could let go of the weight I had on my back and act like a child again. I got to draw hearts on the car windows and scream songs out my chest as we drove through foggy roads. I got to laugh for no reason and forget about the world outside.
However, during the trip, I also got to reflect on all the people who somehow were no longer in my life. I thought about those who had moved away and moved on, those who had changed paths in life or with whom I just naturally lost contact.
It made me wonder; what can I learn from my long-distance friendships that worked and continue to evolve, withstanding the distance and time? What are the differences between the people that stayed loyal and the ones that got away?? Well, these are some answers I came up with:
WORK HARD. PLAY HARD.
I think we are quickly realising that in the fast-paced world we currently live in, the only way to maintain the relationships we have is to work on them like we do every other aspect of our lives.
We no longer stumble into random places and meet the people we are closest to, we no longer just find ourselves hanging out with the people love. All of it gets pre-planned and planned, concocted and rehearsed in text messages and meme filled WhatsApp group chats.
However, if you add a couple thousand kilometres, different time zones, schedules, culture and lifestyle to the mix, it can become even harder to reach the phone. Although, it is true that we are luckier than the ones before us in this aspect with the advancements in technology. I mean, we do have those WhatsApp groups, facetime, free texts to hold us together, most times those can also be the cause of a relationship demise.
Honestly, as I’ve grown older, I no longer subscribe to the fairy-tale ‘and they lived happily ever after’ closing line when it comes to any type of relationship because I realise that often, love alone is rarely ever enough to get you to the finish line, instead, hard work has a greater shot.
It takes some work to remember to check-in when you are inundated with the million things life throws every single day, but sometimes, that can be the difference between a failed friendship and one that thrives.
SHOW UP, IF YOU CARE.
Whenever I hear the phrase; ‘when people show you who they are, believe them’ it rings truer and truer each and every time. The relationships I can’t stand the most are those where you can quickly tell that one party cares way more than the other by a freaking lot, and the worst part is when you know you aren’t the one with the upper hand. It can be an awful feeling to know you just aren’t a priority in a person’s life no matter what you do, and I’m pretty sure we’ve all felt unimportant and unwanted at a point.
I know there’s always a power dynamic in every relationship and there’s always someone who clearly or subtly leads the other. There’s always a person that gets the last word in and there’s always one who constantly gives in. But when the gap between your efforts and their disinterest is too large, that’s when I tend to cut ties.
We all have that one flaky friend who never does what they say; never shows up when it matters or rarely gives you good reasons for their lack of action. Or maybe, you are the flaky friend who never sticks to your word, breaks every promise and changes your mind too often. In other words, I believe showing up is one of the biggest and most important ways you can keep any relationship alive.
CHANGE IS FOREVER.
One thing I’m always trying to come to terms with is that change is the only thing that’s imminent. People change, circumstances change, attitudes change.
In fact, I’d call it growth rather than change, because I feel like to change is to evolve, to mature, to become a newer version of yourself. Whether that change is good or bad, it’s still a part of the story that needs to be acknowledged.
If you want your relationships to work, you need to allow change to happen, and more importantly, accept it. With new life experience comes new feelings and emotions, and with those, change is often unavoidable.
It can sometimes be difficult to let go of the memory of a person you had in your head before life happened to them, but memories exist to remember the past not to physically relive it. So, it might be a bit of a challenge to get to know the new sides to the people you love, but who knows, you might like them a lot better!
NOBODY SAID IT WOULD LAST FOREVER.
Maybe you did promise each other forever, but quickly realise that’s actually a really long time as it passes by. It’s only natural for things to get lost or to break after some time. Relationships that aren’t well-kept, treasured and looked after, fizzle away the easiest. Relationships that feel like cages or prisons are the ones that will find most deserters.
It’s important to know that some people in your life are there for a season only. They are with you to create memories for a designated period that would perhaps be different without them in it.
It’s okay, if some of the faces in your pictures change as time goes by, just remember to appreciate those who still stick around regardless of the seasons or time zones, and who stood by you in the pictures where your heart smiled from ear to ear.
Your restless romantic roamer