Anonymous said: On a subject related to your "fall detox" (which sounds lovely!), at least in the sense of trying to refresh/get back to/establish better habits, etc.... I'm trying to stay in touch better with those with whom I'm close personally but not geographically! I love my family and friends, but often go longer than I intend without sending notes/emails/calls/etc. Are you good at keeping in touch, and if so, do you have any tips you'd be willing to pass along? Thank you much, and happy fall! :)
If there is anything I’m good at, it’s long-distance relationships. I’ve had close to eighteen years of experience :) So, in no particular order:
- Carve out time for your non-proximal relationships. For instance, my weekend to-do list includes getting two letters done. It’s not a burden or a responsibility; it’s just necessary when we live several hundred miles away.
- Find something you love to write on. I have a huge stationery collection thanks to my mom (who buys me some every year for my birthday), but I also found two cute boxes of cards on clearance at Target on Friday and a super cute greeting card while I was waiting for my coffee… And pretty cards don’t belong in boxes—they belong in other people’s mailboxes!
- Use whatever you have on hand. I responded to a letter while I was bored at work, so I wrote on lined paper with my pink grading pen. She responded with yellow legal pad paper. Make it work. Five minutes to kill while the oven is preheating? Shoot off a “hope you have a nice day” text. One of my friends does that regularly, and I swear she has a sixth sense for when I really just need a “hey, thinking of you” message.
- Do whatever you used to do long-distance. As many people know, I have been working my way through too many cycles of America’s Next Top Model. I’ve been doing it with a friend I’ve known for almost twenty years who moved away ten years ago. We used to have crazy movie marathon nights together, so we schedule time where we call each other on the phone and sync up a movie and talk on the phone as if we’re sitting on the couch together. And this time is sacred—you don’t take other calls or cancel halfway through, no more than you would if you were hanging out with someone.
- Technology is your friend. My best friend and I haven’t lived in the same state since we were 10. Thank goodness for What’s App and Skype! We could text like we were in the same time zone, and once a month or so we would schedule a video chat that would last for hours so we could catch up on the crazy stories that didn’t translate well over email. The only thing that keeps me from getting rid of Facebook is that I message one of my friends from college on there all the time. Yeah, we could text… but we Facebook chat. That’s just our thing.
- Don’t take it personally if times goes by. With all the demands on our time that are literally in our faces, it’s easy to let a call go to voicemail until you have time to really talk… and then have it be two weeks later. Or leave a letter on your desk unanswered… for a month. This is not to say that we shouldn’t make our long-distance family and friends priorities, but it does take more scheduling than meeting for coffee on a Saturday morning.
That was really long, but I’m not going to edit it. I think we’re losing the art of the written word. There’s just something about taking the time to communicate that, I think, beats all the together-time in the world. I wish you luck, and happy fall to you, too. I’m off to write a letter :)