There’s nothing quite like that feeling that fills me up at the sight of handwriting that I recognize. The familiar floaty scribble of orange and green ink from sophomore year of college, or the swirly script on holiday cards, or the curly-but-boxy letters of encouragement. Whether it’s the writing of a person I see every single day or someone who I see only once in a while, that feeling in my stomach is a welcome one.
I have lived in California, New York, New Hampshire, and Ireland. I have visited a number of other states in America, traveled to a handful of countries in the world, and made friends from even more places thanks to the Internet. The connections I have made with these people from all over are different, but it is important to me that I keep in touch with each of them in some way. The relationship with my best friend from fifth grade differs from the ones with my House 44 roommates and the ones with the people I befriended freshman year of college, which means staying in touch with each of them is different as well.
I have also noticed that my friendships with certain people have changed, especially those I’ve had for years and years. In high school, my friends and I would get together at one of our parents’ houses, watch movies, gossip, and pig out on all sorts of junk food. Now technically, not all that much as changed. We still sit around, talking and watching episodes of Pretty Little Liars when we can. (Seriously, who is A? Who is Charles? Who am I?) But when we were at college, and now that some of us have moved away, we are definitely not the same people we were in high school. The impending change of those friendships was hard for me to deal with at first, but we have become better friends because of it. Maybe we don’t speak every second of every day (like we once thought was so important), but we have each other’s backs.
Keeping up with people is often difficult because of everyone’s hectic schedules, and especially when they don’t live near you. If I find myself up late at night, it’s cool to have a friend or two awake in another time zone, should I need one. (Shoutout to Ireland, France, and New Zealand for living in the future.) Text messages and social media are very convenient ways to talk with everyone, despite that time and distance. I am grateful that our “age of technology” allows me to stay connected with my friends whenever I want, but occasionally that constant connection takes its toll. Plus, it’s not always the most personal way to communicate. I can text, tweet, and snapchat the same person simultaneously and have three separate conversations with them. It can be pretty cool, but also very strange.
It’s important that I keep in touch in other ways as well. While I would much prefer to catch up over a cold cider and a warm fire or hang out on a train through Italy, handwritten notes come in at a close second. I keep a pile of many of the postcards and cards I have received from far away friends on display in the wall organizer in my room. They are some of my most prized possessions. Since I have spent so much of the last five years living out of state and traveling the world, I have gathered quite a collection. I still hold on to some of my old class notes too because they are covered in scribbles and doodles from friends.
My friends are such an important part of my life. They have taught me so much about myself and the world, especially how to be a good person and how to have a good time. They were there through the good and the bad of my teenage years, or during some of my first “real world” experiences, for long periods of time or not. Part of the reason why I cherish their letters and notes is because it is like having a piece of them with me whenever I need it. I know our relationships will change even more in the future, but I think we are pretty well-prepared. Even though we are still young, I expect that these friends of mine will still be there for me for many years to come.
Wherever you are in the world, thank you, friends.