Let's face it—the older you get, the harder it becomes to maintain friendships. Between our partners and our careers and children and family and pets and so on and so on, it can be difficult to determine where meaningful friendships fit in. Trying to find this place can also make us feel like, well, bad friends—which can lead us to thinking we are bad people.
It can start out with something like forgetting to call a friend on a special occasion or being unable to attend a party or not committing to a fundraiser they are heading or not sending flowers when they get a major promotion—you get the idea. This type of faux pas would have never happened in the earlier stages of your friendship.
So, why is it happening now?
Because we are busy. Really BUSY.
We have a lot going on—all of us! We are trying to be good partners and wives and girlfriends and dog moms and cat dads... We are trying to maintain good jobs and lawns and bodies and well-stocked kitchens... We are trying so hard to be good at so many new things that we end up feeling bad when we can't be good at the things at which we used to be great.
Being the best kind of best friend when we were in high school and college came as naturally as bringing a pencil to class. Celebrations were weekly—sometimes for no reason at all. There didn't need to be an important reason to hang out like there is now. Thirsty Thursday was just as important as any birthday or graduation party—if not more! (I take my tacos and tequila seriously.)
As we get older, friends are replaced with the responsibilities that come with being an adult and it sucks the big one. Suddenly, we can no longer justify drinking until we end up on the curb of a 24 hour fast food joint anymore. We've got shit to do!
This is how we end up with close long distance friendships.
It's a sad day when you realize a friend no longer has to live far to be considered long distance.
I see some of my very best friends only a handful of times in a year now and we live in the same state—some in the same city! Whenever I have too much wine and decide to marinate on this little fact, a dark wave of guilt comes over me.
Why am I not making more time for the people I used to only have time for?
Am I a horrible friend? Do I need to apologize for something? Am I worthy of a close friendship anymore? Do they secretly despise me now? Do they feel the same way that I do? Are they also overwhelmed? Are they just waiting for me to call? Is it my responsibility? Will they even answer? What if it's too late??
After I have drowned these questions in Cabernet, I begin to mentally list the friends that I need to call or the friends I've drifted so far from that I no longer would even know what to say—the friends that I deeply miss.
Usually, this happens at ungodly hour of the night (because I'm half vampire) and I decide that waking any of them up at 3AM with slurs of I miss the days when we used to take baths together in our swimsuits after drinking a box of wine might not be the best idea.
I mean, my friends have kids—like, 98.999% of them do—and they don't need any more reasons to not let me babysit them. They already know that my home is definitely not childproof and that I would probably give them skittles, tomato juice that I use for Bloody Marys and questionably dated cheese for lunch—I need all the help I can get!
Also, mamas need their rest. You don't have to be a parent to know this one. Being a mama is the toughest job in any town. So, instead of waking up their entire household with my sobs of sorrow and pleads for forgiveness, I put it on my to-do-but-never-gets-done list. (It's not a short one in case you're wondering.)
Then, to make myself feel a little better, I do a little mind traveling. Yep, mind travel. You see, I like to think of the memories I've shared with my friends as places I can visit in my thoughts—like cities in my heart. For me, those moments and times shared are the best vacations I've ever had.
I will pull out pictures from our time we spent together in these places. I'll reread letters we wrote to each other about the struggles of this crazy life. I'll listen to songs that take me back to driving too fast or skipping class too much. I'll stop and smell an old perfume and laugh because, well, we practically bathed in it and swore it smelled better when we wore it together. I'll watch movies that put me right back on their mother's couch or in their comfy beds. I'll reopen cards and celebrate them as if it was for the first time by pretending the words that are scrawled before me are still current—still relevant.
These are the things I do that I wish I could find the courage to tell all of the beautiful friends I've had in my life so far. I revisit the little cities of memories we've built together—I dine in their towns, I sit in their communities, I dance in the streets that bear their names.
Something that I've realized from all of this is that it is okay to not be able to be the friends we once were. It's okay to be busy. It's okay to get wrapped up in your dreams and your desires. It's okay to not be present for every single celebration in another's life.
But, there are some things that aren't okay. It's not okay to forget what you once had. It's not okay to miss an opportunity to tell them how much they truly mean to you—to tell them just how much you think about them still. It's not okay to think you don't need their forgiveness. And it's definitely not okay to think you don't need friendship in your life.
We NEED friends. Especially women. A solid conversation with a good friend has healing powers that go beyond any medicine or bottle of wine. (Though wine and conversations are the best kind of medicine!)
So, call them. You know who they are. If you don't have their number, facebook stalk them. Write them a message. If you see them in the grocery store, stop and say hello. If they've invited you to a party, surprise them by showing up. Call them blubbering at 3 in the morning or scare their children by showing up on their doorstep with a mascara-smeared mask.
Just try to find a way to remind them that you haven't forgotten them. Make sure they know that you still laugh with them, even when they are not there. Tell them you still yearn for their opinion when trying on a new dress or that you still talk about them to people who don't know who they are. Make them feel your love.
Find a way to let your friends know that you have ways of keeping them close—even when it's from a distance.