I walk my friend to her car, preparing for the ever-familiar sting of watching her leave. I’m saying goodbye to her for another six weeks, concluding only a short blissful weekend spent together after long months apart. But what follows is unusual – and I find that it has been happening more frequently – there’s less pain when we pull away from the hug, and as I walk away I don’t feel the anxious need to turn around and verify that she’s really disappeared into the night.
I don’t love her any less than I did on the evening of our first significant farewell (the night before I left for University; embarrassingly full of tears) – if it’s even possible, I love her more. But something in each of us has shifted. After years of what can only be defined as cursory visits, we both share an understanding that nothing will change following this separation, just as everything remained the same in the wake of our last.
Long distance, long term, friendships. Perhaps not as romanticized as love stories made heart-wrenching by thousands of miles in the middle; perhaps not as glamorous as a surprise visitor armed with a dozen roses, but essential and inherently a part of life.
Of course, Sophia is not the only friend with whom I share these painful partings. A life between cities and lives is rife with relationships of the sort – the ones where the need to cherish time spent together is palpable, and it seems as though a clock is timing your moments together.
Over time, it seems, I have grown into one single-word and overused notion: trust. Not trust in the other person, but faith in the bonds of each of my precious, enduring friendships. Upon reflection, I’ve found that my younger goodbyes were marked with fear and doubt – of what, I’m not entirely sure.
What would life be like without them?
Will they replace me?
But as I grow and continue on my odyssey into adulthood, I’m observing the way by which friendships that aren’t worth keeping are slowly dissipating from my life and those which provide enrichment are strengthening their hold. Distance, while trying at times, makes relationships transparent; with regards to my personal experiences: effort isn’t necessary to ensure a lasting friendship – because friendships shouldn’t feel like work.
I understand, now, how truly special it is to find someone that can still make you feel like you’re home after months apart. These connections are few and far between, and factors so insignificant as distance or time are unable to weaken their resilience. I appreciate those friendships that maintain a presence in my life. I believe in their presence and that they remain in existence for good reason. I trust them, and I know in my gut that they will not disappear due to one goodbye.
I’m already envisioning Sophia’s return with open arms, and I feel only comfort. The moments we have together may be fleeting, but they are full. And that’s really all that matters.
Words and Photography by Megan Munroe.
© 2017 Reef Magazine