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#TBT to: An Ode to a Long Distance Friend

In the age of social media, it’s incredibly easy to find friends and meet people anywhere in the world. In my case, I was lucky enough to meet one of my best friends back in the days of MSN when my friend (who moved to Nova Scotia) added her into a conversation. Since then, it goes without saying that we’ve been getting closer every year. That being said, what is it about long distance besties that makes them so special and held so close to our hearts? I think the answer to that lies in when you finally see them in mediums that aren’t behind computer or cell phone screens; when you are finally able to run and hug them at the airport.

Over reading week, my friend Katie from Nova Scotia flew down to Ottawa to visit me for the first time in one and a half years. I’m positive I’m not the only one who will eventually have a good friend visiting your sessile butt in Ottawa, so what can you do in in this lively city to make sure that the two of you have memories for decades?

1. Go out for a dinner.
Back in the day, us pasta-lovers found a restaurant called Mama Grazzis. They have pasta, pizza, AND wine, so what better way to celebrate the first day of arrival?

2. Go to Nepean Point and take tons of pictures of the Sunset.
If your friend isn’t from around here, why not show them the most picturesque spaces in Ottawa? Nepean Point is a great example of this. Not to mention, a few selfies of you two wouldn’t hurt either. Come on, you probably have years of pictures together to catch up on, don’t waste any time.

3. Go shopping around Rideau.
If you didn’t shop at a new place where you’re travelling… were you really there? Okay, maybe shopping isn’t everything, but it sure is something. Don’t get me wrong, you don’t have to go all out spending hundreds of dollars, but it is fun to tell someone, “Oh yeah! I got this in Ottawa (or wherever).” Rideau also has so many cute places to shop and neat kiosks to check out. I’d definitely recommend taking good old consumerism into consideration.

4. Why not checkout the nightlife?
Believe it or not, Ottawa’s nightlife scene is actually pretty fun. Depending on where you go and the friends you introduce to each other, you can make for an awesome drunken (but responsible) night! I was able to merge my Ottawa friend group with Katie, which turned out amazingly well. Meeting new people and creating new memories is always a great thing, so don’t be afraid to do so.

5. Cure your hung-over selves at Cora’s for brunch.
Something that always helps with hangovers is brunch (because let’s be real: who’s going to wake up early after a night out?). Katie and I woke up in a decrepit state but still managed to haul our butts for fresh fruit and bacon. Not to mention, if you don’t go out at least once for breakfast/brunch I think you’re totally going to miss out on some quality bonding over coffee about how fun the previous night was.

6. Look for any festivals happening during the time your friend is visiting.
In our case, we just missed Winterlude, but we were definitely able to see tons of sculptures in the Byward Market while walking through it! Not to mention the canal was also a beautiful sight to see while we were crossing the many bridges that downtown Ottawa has. Don’t let go of the opportunity to show people who aren’t from Ottawa the amazing events that our city can pull off all times throughout the year.

7. Trek through snowstorms.
Okay… well I wouldn’t exactly recommend this one, but it definitely made for some fun memories! We decided to get sushi this day and we told ourselves that we wouldn’t let the fifty centimetres of snow stop us from completing our mission. Although we safely stuck to the plowed sidewalks, the amount of face plants I made on the sidewalk was uncanny. The filled sushi bellies were definitely worth all of the pain, though. Don’t forget an opportunity like this also supports some pretty sweet photo-shoot backgrounds.

8. Indulge in some nostalgic activities.
I don’t know about this particular activity, but everyone has something specific and special that they like to share with their best friends. In Katie’s case, we think of it as a tradition to have a glass (or two) of wine in bed while playing this game called Animal Crossing. It brings back so many memories from our childhood and it’s such a fun and sentimental thing to share with each other. Out of all the activities you do, I can promise you that it’s these small but beautiful things that will make a difference when you think to the visit!

9. Make a mess.
Speaking of wine… we spilled it everywhere. All. Over. The. Kitchen. The best part, though? We couldn’t stop laughing. It was to the point where we were on the floor tearing up about how huge of a mess we were. There are times like these were you need to stop and realize that not everything needs to be clean. Not everything needs to be uniform and perfect. It’s times like these where you realize that not everything is in your control but that doesn’t mean that small yet unfortunate things can’t be hilarious at the exact same time.

10. Say goodbye… and don’t forget to cry.
When the time comes to say goodbye, it’s going to be really hard, that’s for sure. Make sure to give a big hug and reassure the other person that even though distance will once again separate you, you’ll still constantly be there to support them during every second of their lives.

But the best thing of all is not somewhere you can go for dinner or somewhere where you can go to buy a new sweater. It’s the late nights spent talking about deep, personal topics (maybe even indulging in a few tears together). It’s the first huge hug to say hello and the last tear-jerking hug that says goodbye. It’s the last wave while looking over your shoulder and the first text that you’ve sent to them all week because they’re suddenly not by your side. It’s the feeling that happens when all your worries and stresses are just put on hold while they’re here making you laugh, and the promises you make the day before they leave. The best part of having a long distance friend is not just one thing, but it’s the entire picture put together. When they leave, it’s almost like they never left because you know that the memories you’ve made will be carried with you with every crunchy step you take in the snow.

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Dedicated to Katie, my long distance best friend.

Jesse Lesniowski, a 22 year-old student at uOttawa in the Environmental Science program. Loves writing, gardening, coffee, wine and making new memories.
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