One of the woes of being an international heroine is that my closest companions are scattered across the globe.
Alas! Instead of bemoan the difficulties of being so cosmopolitan, I take long-distance friendships as a creative challenge.
Especially as an introvert, favouring intimate connections in short bursts, a global girl gang is the way to go.
How to Keep in Touch with Long-Distance Friends
Make a friendship map.
At the back of my Passion Planner, I have a page headlined friends friends friends [inspired by Luna Lovegood’s bedroom wall]. I keep an orderly list, arranged by city and country, so that when I happen to be in town I can run down the list to get in touch. Much simpler than scrolling through my mental rolodex.
Taylor Swift keeps black and white portraits of her besties in her hallway. I started a portable collection of black and white portraits in a folder on my iPod called Hallway.
Recently I upgraded the project to a private Instagram account, posting my beloved portraits on friends’ birthdays, and when I’m thinking of them.
I wanted a place to celebrate my friends privately, without unwanted exposure to the blogosphere. Maybe this is a Gryffindor thing. look how awesome my friends are!!!
Keep in touch the old fashioned way.
When Steve and I were living distantly, my favourite tradition was writing him a letter every Sunday. Communication through letters is uniquely intimate, something more deliberate than in-person conversation, and more thoughtful than email or text.
I love writing friends letters, often on a weekend, usually on holiday, when I have time to spread out.
I always seal the envelope with stickers or washi tape, and I usually enclose little trinkets, like a free postcard from the coffeeshop in which I scribed the note, or a torn page from a magazine. Can’t include such delights in an email!
Play a Game.
Another thing Steve and I did when we were apart was play Words with Friends. The sentiment was in the right place, but he complained that I took too long thinking of words. Sooo I’m taking suggestions for more suitable games.
Lately I’ve been enjoying Dots & Co, which is single-player, but you can see your friends’ progress and send each other free energy. Get in touch if you’re playing too!
Ping an out-of-the-blue thinking-of-you.
Sometimes it feels weird to reconnect with someone I haven’t spoken to in years without a full catch up: How are you? Where are you? What have you been up to? But such pleasantries are not always necessary, in truth.
I often send a quick ‘thinking of you’ message when something I come across reminds me of them. On my end I know it’s delightful to receive an out-of-the-blue “I’m at MUJI. Thought of you.”
These exchanges usually happen over Facebook Messenger (because my phone doesn’t do emojis), where I enjoy pairing each contact with the perfect colour and emoji [did you know you can do this? Tap your friend’s name at the top of your screen on mobile!], and I enjoy exchanging Stickers. All about the stickers, digital and physical.
Related: 21 Things to do on a Pomodoro Break [yes this is one of them!]
Schedule a digital Lunch Date.
I started using Calendly to schedule business appointments, but I have a separate calendar just for ‘lunch dates’ with faraway friends on Skype, whether they’re also having lunch, or an east coast breakfast.
Even a half hour catch up is wonderful – I actually prefer it to a few hours every few months – and much more manageable and fun than going back and forth about time zones.
Visit them in person!
The great thing about having friends around the world is that I have a marvellous excuse to visit my favourite people in new places. My preferred travel activity is to collect glimpses of my friends’ daily lives around the world.
Encourage friends to visit you as well – not just ‘come any time’, but suggest a specific itinerary and time of year.
Or, meet in the middle. Kat and I forgo birthday presents in exchange for the promise to meet up whenever Taylor Swift is on tour.
When will I see you again?
Whether a friend lives down the street or on the other side of the planet, I like to close each gathering by gauging when we’ll next see each other. Asking the question reaffirms the intention to keep in touch, and could lead to unexpected crossings of paths!
How do you keep in touch with faraway friends?
P.S. I founded the Heroine Training traveling tea party tour to meet even more friends around the world. Put in a vote for your hometown, and receive a personal invitation when I’m nearby [when I say personal I mean personal!].