When I was in high school, I met my best friend.
That’s when I realized that all the friends I had were not really great. I had always felt it, in a way. They didn’t understand me, we didn’t share any passions, we were very different to the point of barely having anything in common, really. We were safety nets, we laughed, we talked, but we weren’t close.
So when I met E., my perspective on friendship changed. It shifted dramatically. I could share anything and everything without fearing judgement, she was always there for me, no matter what. We didn’t pretend to be perfect in front of each other, but to me, she always was. For three magnificent years, we saw each other every week day, had sleepover very – very – frequently and could talk on the phone for hours, even after spending the entire day together.
I had never felt that before. This bond, like discovering a sister, someone both similar and different to me that I held close to my heart so much. So when we graduated and ended up studying in two different cities, I got scared. I missed her all the time, it felt strange not to live things with her alongside me. I wanted to tell her everything but higher education studies means having no time to do anything. Years went by, we shared the same city for a year, but had very different timetables, meaning we would see each other more, but not that much. Now, we’re lucky if we see each other more than twice a year. She lives in Paris, I live in Grenoble. We both have full time jobs. We both are in a long-term relationships, creating a life of our own with plans for the future.
But every time we see each other, it’s the same. It’s as if we just saw each other. She hasn’t changed. She is still the same beautiful, smart, witty, honest, no-pretending, brilliant woman who doesn’t realize how amazing and how kind and honest she truly is.
As in any long-term relationship of any kind, it doesn’t get easier. You find adjustments (Messenger and Snapchats are great for that), rearrange schedules to see each other when you can, but it doesn’t mean that I don’t miss her daily. It’s not being able to have full-on, face to face conversations with her that is hard. Not being able to go out to eat, shop, have a coffee, or just talk in our pjs or watch a rom-com together that makes it difficult.
I would lie if I said that I feel fine about not having friends around, because I really am not. I struggle to make long-term, true friendships because she set the bar so high that I struggle to find people who have the same quality as her that I value someone. Someone honest, true, who sees me as I am and don’t judge, who is there to talk about everything and anything, whether it’s of importance or not.
Last year during my 2nd year of master, on the first day of meeting everyone, something strange happened. L. walked into the room and for some reason, I felt in my guts that we would be close. And we became close. Not at the start of the year, I was hanging out with a group of people that kind of created itself out of being in the same class the year before for one, and the two other ones we had befriended along the way. They weren’t good for me and it took some time for me to see it.
But every time I would talk with L., I felt good, truly good, like I could be myself. And little by little, we became quite close. We shared everything, the darkness and the light, our hopes and fears for the future, memories, plans, what we felt deep in out guts. But then, April came around and she was doing her internship in Paris (Paris stills every good friends, I swear) and I was doing mine in Grenoble.
After a few weeks, I started really missing her. It was hard enough not having E. around and having another friend being taken away was hard. So I emailed her. A very, very long email. And that was the begging of what we call our “epistolary novel” emails. We email each other every one or two weeks, answering the previous emails and adding a few bits, recent events, how we feel, things we need to share. And it feels so good. I still really miss her, she is now on the other side of the world on a humanitarian job for 6 months, but even when she’ll come back, she’ll live away.
The thing is, it makes daily life a bit harder. I feel very alone most of the time. I’m lucky that I get along very well with my sister but I don’t see her that much as well, and she has her life. It gets harder when I think about the fact that I don’t go out much, don’t do stuff that I feel the need to do sometimes life go out for a movie that I know they would love, or go eat at our favorite restaurant in Grenoble. It’s also the simple stuff of asking them advices, talking about our day. I sort of feel doomed with having long-distance friendships, to be honest. Every one that I meet who’s an amazing, true friend ends up moving away.
But I’m confident in the fact that these are absolutely true, deep friendships. Because we feel the need to stay in contact. We tell each other the important bits, but also the random, funny stuff that links us together.
And isn’t that what friendship is all about?