Widgets Magazine

Fading friendships: Standstills, stubbornness and the cross-country stretch

As I said goodbye to one of my best friends back home just a couple of months ago, we promised each other, through crooked smiles and teary eyes, that we would never go more than a week without a FaceTime call long enough to at least rehash the significant events of the previous days. We’re 2,519 miles apart, but only a phone call away, right?

Well, fast forward to now, coming up on the two-month anniversary of when I last saw her, and I think we’ve actually talked on the phone twice – or perhaps three times if I’m being generous – out of the eight total times that we should have by now.

It’s not that I don’t miss her, because of course I do. And, if I’m being honest, I’m not even sure if I could pinpoint exactly when things started to taper off. I mean, during NSO, I hardly even had time to keep my own mind wrapped around what was going on all the time, let alone relay it all to someone else. So I wasn’t surprised when I found myself with more missed calls than I could bring myself to return right away. I got to all of them eventually, but with a lot of people, after the initial check-in, a quick dorm tour and an excessive number of “I miss you”s, there wasn’t that much follow-up.

With the aforementioned friend, blank selfies exchanged on Snapchat throughout the day to keep the streak going have taken over as our only form of consistent communication. To go from talking to someone everyday to getting most of your information about their life from their social media profiles puts a lot of things in perspective.

It’s true that I haven’t called her in a while now, but, to be fair, she hasn’t called me either. So where does that leave us? Probably with both of us thinking the same thing – if the other person really wanted to talk, they’d put in the effort to find the time. And where does that get us? Nowhere.

Realistically, neither of us is so busy that we can’t afford to spare a few minutes here and there to just drop a line. Contrary to what I may be leading my mom to believe, I’m not on the grind 24/7, and I doubt my friend is either. Whether consciously or not, I believe that we’re both either prioritizing other things or just too stuck in our unspoken cycle to be the one to break through the standstill, especially now that enough time has passed for it to be kind of awkward to have to come up with some semi-sincere excuse on both ends as to why it’s been so long since we’ve talked. While I can’t speak for my friend, for me, it’s pretty much a combination of both.

I certainly haven’t lost touch with everyone. I have one friend back home who I typically talk to twice a week, and we text nearly everyday. With another one, while we don’t talk as frequently, when we do, we’re usually on the phone for nearly two hours, if not longer. The difference in both of these situations is that, from the beginning, I could always tell that they had a genuine interest in actually keeping in touch. There are no never-ending rounds of phone tag or any need to write the phone call down in my planner as something I need to be able to cross off. We just decide we need to talk, and it happens. So, when it comes to making time to talk to people, naturally I end up prioritizing the ones who seem to be doing the same.

Then again, maybe if I took the first step towards making my long-lost friend a priority, then she would follow suit. But I haven’t. This leads me to believe that it all boils down to not necessarily being as close to all of the people I left at home as I thought I was. My eyes have been opened to the heartbreaking possibility of some of those friendships being based on proximity rather than substance, the latter being the only thing that can truly stretch cross-country.

I’m sure my friend and I will be able to pick up right where we left off when we both return home for Thanksgiving. There’s something about the anticipation of turkey and sweet potatoes that just allows bygones to be bygones. As for what will happen when our paths in life start to stray even farther from each other, I suppose only time will tell.


Contact Kassidy Kelley at kckelley ‘at’ stanford.edu.