K.I.T! The acronym scrawled throughout our yearbooks spoke of promise. We would keep in touch! Oh yes, we would.
More often than not, Keep In Touch signified good intentions without follow through. It's right up there with "we should get together sometime." In junior high, we were limited to whether our parents could drop us off at each other's homes. As we grew up and eventually got drivers licenses, we had to take ownership of our plans and priorities. Sure, we wanted to keep in touch with our classmates but then summer jobs interfered or vacations. And as I've grown older still, I've realized good intentions don't take us very far.
But still. I've tried to say "let's keep in touch" only when I mean it. Some friendships are only for a season. There's no way to predict which will endure and which will ebb away.
I have a large circle of friends from various walks of life. I don't plan on changing my friend collecting ways any time soon. However, I need to adjust my priorities and expectations.
I changed the game when I moved to Nashville.
For years I've prided myself on being a loyal friend. When friends move out of state or country, I do my best to call or email regularly. It was easy to keep the lines of communication open with a few outliers without sacrificing time or energy maintaining local relationships.
Now I'm here, while a lifetime's worth of loved ones remain in Illinois. Even though I fervently hoped it was possible to keep in touch with everyone back home, it's impossible. At least, not without great personal cost.
All of my friendships have changed naturally since I've moved. Things inevitably shift when people no longer live in the same place. In most cases, this does not diminish the friendship itself. When we talk, it's as if time never passed. And yet, time does pass. More months seem to pass with thoughts of "oh! I should call so-and-so, it's been awhile." I rarely remember this when it's convenient to call or email and so more time elapses. I hate this.
I hate not being available to all people at all times. Even if I could be, I'm an introvert. A people person but an introvert nonetheless. Between friends back home, friends here, and blog friends, I'm pulled in quite a few directions.
As my third year of NashLiving gets under way, relationships are settling into place. Friendships are strengthening, no matter where they occur. Others are falling away, for better or worse.
We don't keep in touch or get together by accident. I don't want to let go of any friends but friendship is indeed a two way street.
I know my communication preferences (phone calls and emails are best; FB messages and texts are a certain level of hell) and I'm learning to compromise when friends' preferences differ. I'm working on keeping track of the last time I talked to a friend. Facebook and Twitter can give the illusion of keeping up with each other. For me, nothing quite replaces a good conversation without character limits.
In a couple of weeks I'll head home for our family reunion. I'll see as many people as I can fit in, this time trying to work in a few college friends and blog friends. The circles back home continue to widen, even as they decrease. I realize it doesn't make much sense but this is the nature of my life. For every friendship ebbing away, a few new friends walk into my life, both back home and here.
And yet, I know it's impossible to see everyone over a long weekend in my hometown. The first Christmas I barely saw my parents. This is my new balancing act: seeing my family, then my friends. I feel lucky to have so many amazing people in my life.
The last few weeks I've made a concerted effort and called friends to catch up. I've emailed a few others. I finally wrote back my pen pal after a gulp-worthy six months of owing her a letter. I've met up with local friends for coffee and set up times to connect with a new one or two. This is a work in progress.
I'm not a perfect friend but I am a kickawesome one. That's why I'll continue to do my part to ensure I stay way.
How well do you keep in touch with friends? What are your communication preferences?