Long distance

Tonight I'm grateful for the friends I talk to rarely. I have a handful of people I've connected to in the past, sometimes fiercely so, who I speak to once or twice a year. I'm struck by the strength of what keeps us important to each other - humor, understanding, shared experiences. We may now be in different places but I'm so often physically far from those I'm close to emotionally that it feels normal to me. I've moved so much that I wonder if I'll ever live somewhere and not hear a voice in my ear that whispers, "You're just visiting....what's next?"

Not long ago Matthew commented that it sucks that I have so many friends but so few live nearby. My first reaction was defensive.

"I don't think it sucks. I'm okay."

It's been YEARS that I've had a stable number of friends close to me. I've collected great loves and held on to them for dear life but they're scattered in all directions because that's what I've done myself.

Sometimes it's the milestones that make us more separate - marriages, babies - and sometimes the same things bring us back together. Work schedules, money to travel, busy-ness: they all play a part. I can call but am picky with the phone to the point of phobia. I do best with the phone when I make official "dates" and plan my day around that hour or two. With a few people I email and to others I write letters. In general, I prefer to see people in person.

Working in touring both helps and hurts. I spend the summer making my way around the country to parts I might not get to otherwise and sometimes see friends on days off. But touring is also massively time-consuming and I balance two largely detached lives: work life and personal life. This is not a complaint, it just is. In managing people at work, I try to stick to the principles from the rest of my life. The hardest things to say are best said in person and not by email or text, accept responsibility when I screw up or don't know something, learn from those around me, stay calm and decisive in uncertainty or crisis. Be fair. Know when to be flexible. Care.

I recently took a call from a number I didn't recognize. I was in Texas and when I realized it was Taryn's friend Leeann, I stepped outside to the loading dock. I talked to Leeann for awhile and told her that I was likely going to miss Taryn's Colorado wedding and cabin weekend because I'd be in the Philippines with the Idols. I asked her how she knew Taryn and told her that we ran around Ecuador together. After we hung up I texted Taryn and said that I want to hang out with Leeann when she's in Southern California for the winter. Taryn and I decided to talk before she gets married in September. It'll be the first time we get on the phone since the weekend she flew to Kentucky for my wedding, walked into my house and plunked down on the floor like she'd been there a hundred times before.

I had a beer with Jon on a day off in Seattle and he asked me questions that only someone who knew me ten years ago would know to ask. I got an email from Kelly right before I left LA for Salt Lake City that made me laugh out loud, a true LOL. She still calls me "Spano" in honor of the day at work in New York that we decided to call each other after Saved By The Bell characters: Jessi Spano and Kelly Kapowski.

There are others who I think about all the time, everyday, but haven't talked to in too long: Charlie, the Eisens, the Moodys. We're in different time zones and hemispheres and I wonder how they are and what they're doing.


zan said...

This was an important read for me right now. The other night at a bar I said goodbye to a roomful of people who are all great friends, not knowing when I'd next be in the same room as most of them again. This line: "Sometimes it's the milestones that make us more separate - marriages, babies - and sometimes the same things bring us back together." ...gives me hope.

ronckytonk said...

Are you going back to Ohio now? That is so exciting and scary and awesome.

Butta C.U.P. said...

It's like an ongoing 15 year conversation that just picks up where we left off. It's like strawberry shakes and valley girls in Mt. Adams. It's like girls falling over propane tanks coming out of the bathroom....but it's more like having someone in your life that you love and care about and know that those that truly love you are never far away.

ronckytonk said...

"like girls falling over propane tanks while coming out of the bathroom"!

Martin Eisen said...

Wow...if you're wondering how this Eisen is doing, well, I'm reading your blog for the first time in far too long. I've been up since 4AM due to unexpectedly signing up for a traditional Mexican weight loss program (the 24 to 48 hour kind, you can imagine). I enjoyed reading your post. Having moved so much in the past few years and especially the past 6 months, I can relate to what you're saying. You and Matthew come down May-hee-ko way and we'll show you a good time!
Chau amiga,

ronckytonk said...

Marmar! What kind of Mexican weight loss are you partaking in at 4 am? And did you move from Chile to Mexico or are you visiting Mateo? Talk to me. xx

The Librarian said...

You are very blessed with a plethora of caring and devoted friendships that have stood the test of time and changes. The sad part is that some of us lose those relationships in time. We become "out of sight, out of mind." It's a shame. Consider yourself lucky and blessed.

Elise said...

We haven't known each other for very long, but I'd like to think if we got together again, or talked on the phone, inside jokes and conversation would come smoothly. We should experiment! I don't have a self-portrait of you in my kitchen to remind me of you all time time..

ronckytonk said...

Elise, at the very least we could say, "Druuuury...." over and over for an hour and laugh.