We are moving.
When you hear these words, do you shout for joy, begin researching your new duty station or run straight to a tub of ice cream, call your friends and bemoan your fate? Well, I have done all of these things, often at the same time.
No matter how we feel about a move, one thing is constant – the goodbyes. I always want to throw myself down and kick and scream, and I think one time I did, but I still packed up, cleaned out and hit the road. It has not always been easy or pain-free.
Over the last couple of decades, I’ve left friends all over the country and they have left me. Social media has bridged a gap that used to be deep and wide. Now, regardless of time zone and distance, my friends can still be part of my life. Here are a few tips to keep in mind as you pack up and move out:
Social media isn’t always the best form of communication.
Sometimes technology makes us lazy. A slew of happy birthdays over social media is great, but for those friends we consider close, it’s not always the best way to make them feel like they are special. Make sure you take a moment to send a card or make a call. The mail carrier needs to deliver more than just ads and bills!
Don’t share super special news via social media before you tell those special friends first.
There’s nothing worse than hearing big news about a close friend via a news feed instead of a private email, phone call or even text. Consider keeping a list of those you need to share with before you share with the world.
Conference calls and video teleconferencing isn’t just for business.
Phone dates either via a conference call or group videoing can keep friends and families close. Seeing each other’s kids grow and keeping in touch with the little events in their lives is a great way to continue to grow and strengthen the bond of friendship. I love “seeing” my friends as much as hearing them.
It is not as easy as you think.
You have to work at nurturing friendships that are no longer conveniently next door or down the street. Our lives get busy, and it takes work to settle into a new area. There’s an old song that says, “Make new friends, but keep the old; some are silver and the others gold.” I never understood that as a young girl, but after saying goodbye over and over…and over again, I have seen the truth of those words. Anything of value takes work. You have to find the time to stay close because time is a slippery thing and is gone before you know it.
I have found the hardest part isn’t’ keeping in touch but not being there to share in my dear friends’ triumphs and sorrows in person. Sometimes the only option is a thoughtful note dropped in the mail or a personal text (and then DON’T expect a response). We are not able to know everything that is going on in their lives once our zip codes change. We have to exercise extra patience and understanding when we reach out to offer support or when we want to share and there is not an immediate response or reply.
I have dearly missed the presence of some of my friends. They have enriched my life, loved my family and loved me even in the middle of crazy deployments when I wasn’t at my best. They have become more than just “friends.” They are family created by choice and shared experiences, and I am grateful for them.