As a Memphis transplant, I have had the awesome opportunity to have friends all over the country who have shared significant amounts of life with me. They have been with me through childhood, the awkward middle school (and high school) years, college, and beyond. They have laughed with me at silly things and sat with me through hard things. The friendships have lasted through time, moves, and life stages.
Growing up, I never had a pen pal when it was all the rage, but now in the year of our Lord 2022, I feel like I have many “pen pals” in the form of iMessages, Instagram posts, and emails. My girlfriends and I keep in touch in our own ways – sharing hilarious memes, texting prayer requests, FaceTiming, phone dates, and voice memos. There’s also the good ‘ol fashioned letter and care package here and there. And in this continued pandemic, these really are the tools for keeping friendships alive these days!
While they’re not physically here in town with me, this long distance friendship communication style is the next best thing. It’s not perfect, and there are months where we go without “speaking,” but when we do see each other, it’s like we were never apart. There’s something so sweet and unique about having friends who live far away, who see me and have “seen me” as I have aged and (hopefully) matured. They remind me of who I have been, they encourage me to be who I am, and they challenge me to continue to be the best me possible. They know the hilarious stories from high school church league basketball, the crazy stories of grad school, the time I dated a guy who rushed a fraternity our senior year of college, and the infamous email I sent to all of them swearing I would never, ever, marry my now husband.
Another plus to these long distance friendships? A lot of us are moms and have kids the same age, and there is something so comforting and honest about knowing that my parenting woes are the same woes they experience. Sometimes my brain makes up lies about how parenting must be different if I lived “over there,” and it’s nice to know that it’s not the case; parenting and being a mom is sometimes just as hard on the “greener” side too!
My friends and I here in Memphis have our own text message chains, meme-sharing, and story-living together that my long-distance friends have not experienced. They know the me “now,” and I have my long distance friends to thank for some of that. My Memphis friends are getting to see the Jocelyn that has had the support of friends who have walked with me for 20+ years, despite the miles between us.
Yes, invest in the friendships you have in your proximity. But if you have been given the gift of long distance friendships, invest in those ones too. They’re the ones that have seen you through stuff that your proximity friends may have not had the chance to – and that’s something to honor.