I have some amazing friends. I say that I don’t have many close friends and yet the older I get, the less true this becomes. Being avid travellers, Blondie and I have crossed paths with so many people, befriended many of them and even picked up a few very close friends along the way. The kind of friends that are always friends despite our sometimes hectic travelling lifestyle and their own hectic lives! We started out our travels with very good friends from way back when, and some of them have lasted the distance. It’s not easy being friends with travellers who hardly ever make it home to see you, who haven’t met your significant other, family or kids.
I have known my best friend since I was 10 years old. We went to primary school together. We lived together when we were in our late teens and early twenties. And I have hardly seen her in the past few years. We have briefly lived in the same country but that was as close as we got. She has been to hell and back recently and I wasn’t there to help her. She has always done her absolute best to be there for me despite the distance and vice versa. And she is very firmly still my best friend. I adore her for the amazing person that she is and I also admire her for still being my friend despite the fact that I haven’t been to see her in years.
And this is what most of my friendships look like. My friends are scattered across the globe, from small town New Zealand to London-town and everywhere in between including Dubai, Ho Chi Minh, Nanjing and a darling girl that I adore who currently lives on a cruise ship in the Caribbean! I am someone who loves travel, loves new experiences and believes in following my heart. As a consequence, I tend to be drawn to people who have similar beliefs and dreams, people who travel, people who don’t travel and live far away from me, people who also value strong connections over distances. So how do I maintain these friendships with people I haven’t actually seen face to face for YEARS?!
When I first moved away from the town where I met and went to school with my best friend, we would write in small notebooks (3B1 we called them in New Zealand) that we would staple together when the first ones filled up. When I had written my letter in the notebook, I would send the whole thing to her, and vice versa. We filled up many notebooks with our teenage ramblings and quirky little drawings. We both lived in smallish towns that weren’t too far away, so sending notebooks was easy when we were in high school. Decorated in drawings made in vivid (the most common brand of permanent marker in NZ) and twink pen (the Kiwi name for white correction pens!), pages dog eared and well loved, these notebooks were a fabulous way to keep in touch with one of the only persons I knew back then who was as weird as I thought I was! And we still saw each other every now and then. When she moved to where I was living to go to university, the need for the notebooks disappeared and because we had kept in contact during the years, we easily slipped into back to being face-to-face friends. And this was a transition that happened back and forth many times over the years. One of us would move away and the other would eventually follow, creating a connection that distance could not severe. Even when we live on opposite sides of the globe!
This is where I am insanely thankful for the worldwide web. Tattered posted notebooks have made way to Facebook, Snapchat, email, Instagram, Skype, WeChat… All of these platforms make the world much smaller and make communication across oceans much easier. Seeing a snapchat from one of my girlfriends back in New Zealand with her drop dead gorgeous sons makes my heart melt. WeChat conversations between my parents, Blondie and I that are days long and full of sarcastic cheeky quips at each other. Seeing a memories post on Facebook about that time when we were long boarding down our street with some very talented videographers and our favourite Scottish wench. The emails between my best friend and I are just as scattered and raw as our face to face conversations are. Making the effort to send little pressies to my cousins kids, and then she sends me pictures of the kids wearing them makes me feel a little bit closer, despite the fact that I have only ever seen her kids on a screen.
Having friends and family so far away but still maintaining relationships with them takes effort. And sometimes I am not the best with this effort. Then out of the blue, I am faced with a reminder of why I love the people that I love, of how lucky I am to have such incredible, genuine, beautiful people in my life and I resolve all over again to be a better friend, a better daughter and a better cousin. This is the ever developing, ever changing, always amazing ebb and flow of me and my most treasured relationships. Sometimes I miss them so much it hurts. I have moments sitting alone in whatever apartment is home at the time when I am dead sick of talking to Blondie and I crave a conversation with my bestest friend in the whole wide world, because no one else can have multiple conversations with me quite like she can. I have moments where all I want to do is call my girls and meet them at Library Bar in Wellington, order fabulous cocktails and giggle over stupid things.
When we can, travelling and seeing our loved ones face to face is beyond amazing. Being able to fly to Melbourne to see one of our closest friends marry the love of his life was incredible! Drinking wine in a dark apartment with one of our cousins who is like a little sister to us, hearing about all of her achievements and heartaches just like we used to do when she lived with us, filled our hearts up. Being able to visit our friends when they move to scary exciting new cities, seeing them in action, watching them learning about and navigating their new homes really demonstrates to us what remarkable people our friends are. Having friends make the effort to visit US where ever in the world we are is equally awesome. Being able to share with them the little nooks we have found makes us very proud. And these times reiterate to me why we have created this scattered community, and why we continue to add to this community with more extraordinary weirdo’s. If variety is the spice of life, then our life is hot, hot, HOT with all of the wonderful variety that we have amongst our close circle of friends. Here’s to you guys! The hard-working, ambitious, absurd, lovable bunch that we are lucky enough to call our community and family.