Long distance relationship advice but actually they're friends you only met once
It began with a trip to Seattle. The friend I came to visit - who, if you know me, you know I've talked about her - remained in contact with me after our last summer of camp together and we planned to see each other again before high school ended. In February of my junior year, my parents and I decided to trek across the country to the hipster city I know my dad always wanted to vacation in anyway. Though it was cold and rainy and even snowed while we were there - which it apparently never does - this trip was an adventurous, unscripted reunion with a close friend and an introduction to new friends I have grown to know and love.
My friend gave me a personalized tour guide through the city of Seattle, taking me to Pike Place Market where fishmongers toss the fresh catch around and I copped a gluten free scone (when do you see those ever), the Gum Wall, the Seattle Great Wheel for views of the whole city and mountain peaks on a clear day, the infamous Space Needle, and the stunning Chihuly Garden & Glass museum. Since it was off season, these spots were not packed with tourists like I'm sure they are in the summer. Through the intermittent rain and breeze I felt just the right amount of tourist-y.
In my friend's residential area, she showed me gorgeous lake views, pine trees and each of her friends' houses. She had been hyping all of her friends up to me individually so I was ready to meet these incredible people. We went to a burger place with amazing milkshakes, basement hopped, whipped around and had a good time. By the end of the trip though, I had only hung out with her friends sporadically for a total of about 5 hours.
Goodbyes were said and I didn't know when I would see any of them again.
Then came the group chat. Based on its camera roll, I would timestamp the chat's birth to March of 2018. This group chat has changed formats from iMessage to Snapchat to WhatsApp and Instagram memes and back to iMessage, added and subtracted members, added another 14 hours to the pre-existing 3 hour time difference, and switched back to east coast/west coast time. It endured high school relationships, 2 graduations, 4 (maybe 5?) proms, summer boredom, college acceptances, college rejections, college relationships, and plenty more.
How did we maintain genuine friendships, manage to mature together and grow closer despite a 3,000 mile separation? It might appear from recent conversation that the answer is a lot of memes and Tik Toks. But overall, offering support even if you don't have the full timeline of someone's life and empathizing seem to be the reasons. Offering condolences for loved ones lost, sending birthday videos, inspirational quotes, and songs to drive to or cry to are all accomplishments of this unlikely group. The girls also tend to call out each other's bull when necessary and I love it. It's what real friends should do. Honesty and fierce loyalty are two concepts I had never confronted in such a way before. One thing that always made me feel included was the girls in Seattle photoshopping me into their group pictures. They had no obligation to do so but they did! Just to make me laugh and feel welcome!
It may seem frivolous to spend so much time engaging with women I have not seen for 2+ years in person. However, staying in touch with them brings me so much joy that I could not imagine growing without them. Maybe it's the only child in me, but I pride myself on preserving friendships even if people are not easily accessible. I've learned to build and grow networks since I do not have a sibling to immediately call my best friend and always rely on.