Pause

"One of the most beautiful qualities of true friendship is to understand and to be understood." Lucius Annaeus Seneca


Friendship in adulthood becomes more complex and somehow simultaneously more simplistic. I often find myself thinking randomly of my friends and the people I care about. Something I hear, see, taste, smell, or feel will remind of them, and suddenly it's as if they are right here with me. I am warmed by their spirit and feel their presence with me. I smile to myself and am comforted with the fond memories that they have shared with me. Friendship, like all relationships, change with proximity. Those who I am physically closer to often are the forefront of my mind, and when I drift to the thoughts who are a distance away I find myself hesitating. 

What is it about distance that makes us forget what we have already established? I worry needlessly that a text from me is a disruption to the life my friends are living without me, but my entire understanding is rooted in an unfounded doubt. So what if it seems out of the blue. So what if I don't get a response. So what if it has been a long while. If someone crosses my mind, I take that a nudge to send a check-in message. The funny things are that when my long lost friends reach out I am quick to respond, and never take it as a bother, and every time I have reached out others have been there to receive me with open arms. Perception and reality can vary greatly, sometimes it take a concrete "risk" to nullify our anxious imaginations of what is true, and what will be. I have friends because who else will speak to me with candor and compassion. They understand me, and I them in the most moving of ways. We share the same truth, and adoration for one another. Creating those connections, in the ever-moving world of adulthood can be difficult (we're not open to it, and others aren't open to us). Old friendships are old not because of the length of their duration but the ease, comfort, and authenticity that they embody. We get to bare our souls, speak our minds, and let our bodies rest with those we have built rapport with. We get to speak differently, say what we need to say, and say it how we want with those who have taken the time to know us, and for those whom we have let know us. 


It's a pause. All these conversations and connections that seems to go on for a lifetime. It's even in the way I leave people, even when it appears to be permanent - "see you soon." I don't say bye. I don't say farewell. I say talk to you later because there is always the possibility that we will talk again. There doesn't have to be permanence when all we have to do is choose to make our disconnect temporary. My friendships now seem like a conversation put on hold, an away message on an AIM chat, a letter chain waiting for correspondence. We just pick up where we left off, and it's actually a little bit further than that because we've been getting the newsreel via social media. It's amazing how we can just summarize our lives into easily digestible sound bites as if they were gargantuan ordeals of us when we were actively experiencing them. Once we catch up, we live in the present for whatever time we have together. If it is a phone call we transition to the minutiae of the day, a visit - we are where we are, or a text conversation - paragraph on paragraphs on what we're thinking about. Those catch-ups, or even that fact that someone is noticing, caring, thinking about you means a whole lot to us especially in times when we feel isolated, disconnected, forgotten, or insignificant. It's better for us to check-in and to hear great news, than to keep to ourselves and miss the opportunity to be a reminder of compassion when someone might need it. Hell, we might/probably need it ourselves - hence why we reach out. It's mutually beneficial for all. We give and take validation that our friendship, is beyond a shadow a doubt, real, and moreover, worthwhile.

There is something profound about feeling safe, secure, and comfortable in the relationships/connections we've forged.  Cherish the friendships most that do not need constant reassurance that we are in fact friends. We can go days, weeks, months - years even, and still know that we matter to one another - it may not be in the day to day, but we are forever etched into one another's life stories. There is peace of mind and no questions to be asked. We don't wonder or worry. We just are. We know that we are there if and/or when we're needed. We are confident that we would do anything within our power to support these well-established friends, and are sure they would do the same for us. These are the people that immediately come to mind as your forever friends because there is not one iteration of your life ahead that you can reasonably fathom without them. 

We carry people with us wherever we go. We are ourselves, our identities, thoughts, experiences, and everyone who has impacted us. We carry the love, the way people have made us feel, and how they have seen us in those strikingly profound ways. We are never without them. They are never truly far away. The the things they taught us, what we learned about ourselves from there, and all that they are to us - hope, laughter, love, companionship, refuge, strength, support, etc. - we get to access those things readily just by recalling our friendships. That ability to make people feel mattered even when you're not with them, that is friendship. That irreplicable comfort, contentment, courage, and care that we get to make people feel - that's the lingering effects of friendship. Regardless of how long the pause is between us, recalling the words spoken and unspoken between us move us.


It is so important that we cheer on our friends from afar, but even more so that we let them know that we're doing so. People have no idea we care about them unless we express that care. We have to be put our care on display. We have to prove our care. We have to be explicit with our care. We have to be intentional with our care lest others believe otherwise. Much of my communication with my friends consists of letter writing, birthday gifts, and care packages. There's nothing like receiving a package in the mail perfectly curated with you in mind. And letter writing may be a dying art but nothing compares to seeing the strokes, script, and emotion of a handwritten message. It's personal, powerful, and poignant. I have kept every letter and note I have ever received since the age of 18. I so value the time and effort it took for someone to express themselves to me. Nowadays, I often give experiences for gifts like zip-lining, kayaking, indoor skydiving, wine tasting, etc. so my friends can make a new memory, even if I'm not there to do so with them. Scheduling time to do a phone call or Facetime, especially consistently, has made maintaining friendships even easier. With good friends there is always something to talk about. No matter where life takes us or where we take life, those that carved their names on our hearts go with us, even if it is just a pause in our conversation. 

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