For People and Things That Went Before
( For context, listen to this masterpiece before you read and CRY!)
When you’re angsty as all hell, uncomfortably broke and still having breakouts, life hands you the most influential figures in your life, for better or for worse: your friends. These people mold you far before the frontal lobe develops. Best friends, close friends, friends-of-friends, friends-who-become-more-than-friends, friends-who-are-no-longer-friends.
In our teens and early twenties, we form our own nests — not the ones our parents made for us, but ones we create with the people we pick. The girl from homeroom, the first guy you met at Welcome Week, the obnoxious roommate you grew to love. Good influences, bad influences. Many shades of questionable character in between.
(These are the incubator years. While most of us get busy chucking ourselves out of the nest headfirst, the Mom Friend hops around cheeping, “Remember sunscreen!” “Have you studied?” “Yes, I have Tylenol.”)
Life is what we make of it, consequences seem as distant as the ground, and we’re blissfully invincible. We don’t know or care what a Roth IRA is, but we do know how to make a mean Hot Pocket and what to say to her when she gets dumped by the same Sigma Whatever for the third time.
Sure, there’s drama and gossip and stupid sh*t that won’t matter in a few months — but life feels like it’ll be this way forever.
Then one day, you wake up, don an ugly polyester robe you forgot to iron and march across a stage. You’re handed a piece of thin paper worth tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars. You pack your mom’s mini van. You leave — alone.
Just like that, your world will never be the same again. This sounds overdramatic, but, well, it’s the truth.
You’ll likely move home or wherever a job lands you — or the mounting pressures will leave a bad taste in your mouth and you’ll go travel for a bit until the Chase account dries up. In any case, you’ll settle down somewhere, having been shoved out of the nest.
So what now? What do we do to stay close to our people when they’re hundreds of miles away?
It’s easy to keep up in a stalker-ish capability via Instagram, Facebook, Venmo search bar (hey! no shame, we’ve all done it).
Texting sucks and some people have a near-anaphylactic reaction to phone calls.
But here’s the thing: you’ll likely never have as many friends as you had in college. Don’t give ’em up.
If you want to have any good friends present in your new life whatsoever, you must! Learn! To! Communicate!
You could attempt to schedule a weekly call or vow to answer every half-dead iMessage exchange. But life will happen, concrete plans will fall through, and you’ll feel guilty. You may end up resenting your friends. It used to be so easy to walk into their rooms, or run over to their houses, or see them every M/W/F in class.
If you’ve ever done long-distance, you know how difficult an adjustment this is. (Long-distance is a whole other animal and as each of my attempts at it have tanked, I cannot advise you in such a situation.)
I’m not particularly lovey, but on many days I’d like nothing more than to snuggle my old roommates or hear the sound of tinny pregame music echoing around the house on 44th Street that, uhh, definitely had black mold.
Here are my top 5 remedies for beating the blues when you’re missing your best ones:
- The Rogue Phone Call: no warning — just call — don’t Facetime. Looks more urgent, like you may be stuck in a ditch somewhere. Friend is more likely to pick up. “aRe YoU oK?” they say. Answer in an upbeat tone. They are now trapped.
- Long Snapchat videos: using Snapchat at 22 feels a bit juvenile. However! It’s an excellent way to send a mass of people long, witty rants about your day. You have to be funny to elicit a response. Practice, I guess, if this doesn’t come naturally. ;)
- Make a finsta: it’s exhausting to update every friend about personal developments. Make a private finsta that won’t risk your employment status and pair each caption with a good meme or horrific selfie. I have a few friends who have perfected this art and the results are comedic/poetic gold.
- Email their college address: It’s startling to get an email from someone other than Bed Bath & Beyond or a Nigerian prince. I have only done this once, but had good results. Send a long update and skip the back-and-forth!
- Plan a trip: this is tough, given limited vacation time and the fact that we’re all poor. But it’s doable! Concoct a plan and then — and I cannot stress this enough — follow through. This summer, my friends flew in from Colorado and Illinois for a New York weekend. Our hotel didn’t have air conditioning and we had to sneak low-shelf shooters into Manhattan bars, but we were way too happy to care.
There will never been another time in your life like college. You might never live with these people again, or see them every weekend. But don’t let the changing tide be an excuse to let them go. In the words of some British rockstar:
“Though I know I’ll never lose affection
For people and things that went before
I know I’ll often stop and think about them
In my life, I’ll love you more.”