When Life Gets Busy, ‘Staying in Touch’ is Incredibly Challenging

“We’ll stay in touch, won’t we?” Of course, we will, I respond. Text me every day!

This is the exchange that happens during endings— all kinds of endings. It happened at the end of a three-day Model UN trip sophomore year, the end of month-long summer programs, at the end of high school. But things fall apart, and text messages become scarce— what’s that rule about response time being equivalent to the time it took for the first person to message? I’ll text forever with the friends I see every day, but once there’s an ocean between us…

Some of the friends I made during my time in Japan

It’s not that I love those friends less— in fact, many of them were more impactful to my formative years than some friends I keep now. Some of them were the first true friends I ever made, and they will always hold a place in my heart. But there’s nothing short of physically reuniting that will allow me to successfully keep in touch with them.

Some of that is anxiety— we’re so far apart, and life moves so fast, that I don’t know what I could say to them, that will wholly reconnect us in the way that we’d want. I could send them essays upon essays, but that would mean that I’d have to take less than three weeks to respond to an “I miss you!” message I get.

And life gets busy, and I meet so many people, and in some ways, in a completely narcissistic way, it means that every person is another piece of my journey of growing and learning. It means that they are all pieces of me, some of those pieces going away and changing into something new. But it’s also true that only a few people make a lasting impact. Those people are really special.

This is the area where I lived in Japan for a few weeks-- seeing this picture reminds me not only of the beauty of the area but also of the friendships I formed.

Keeping in touch is hard. I do feel bad about not being able to do it, but it’s not because I don’t care. It’s because I might care a little too much, and I find it hard to communicate without really fully being there. And just because I don’t manage to find a way doesn’t mean they’re not important.

Writing this did inspire me to message someone back, though.


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