I forgot one of my best friend’s birthdays. It was mid-November. If I were in New York, there’d have been an evite, or at least talk of how we’d be celebrating come the weekend. We’d detail where she’d be eating with her husband, what she was planning to wear, even. And then I’d ask about all the things she bought in the name of, "Well, my birthday is coming up, and I totally deserve it. So, why not?" And I’d get to see said purchases. But I’m in Austin, and it’s not the same.
With all my friends in other parts of the country, we aren’t able to love one another in detail anymore. Broad strokes love is there, the deep kind that makes us all feel safe, and I’m sure it always will be. But we both miss out on the details. With remarkable ease, we can say we’re "pick-up friends"==friends that pick up just where we left off. And it’s true, we swing right into our back and forth, asking the right questions, getting to the heart of things. But, still, we miss the sidelines. And it sucks.
I want to know what my friends are fighting about with their significant others–not in the way you recount an argument a week later, in breezy, "Yeah, but we worked it all out" generalizations. I want radio-announcements as it’s happening. I want to hear the excitement in her voice, to know what the next step is with her job. What she’s thinking of getting him for the holidays. Instead, phone calls are cut short by the lives we’re living across the country. And the details are shared with the lives lived closer to where we are. With new friends, different friends, friends closer to where we are in our lives, situations and proximity.
Even via IM, knowing the friend is so far away, we’re less apt to discuss plans. There’s very little "what are you up to tonight?" because as far as we’re concerned, every night is the same, and it’s lived without us in it. When you’re in the same city, you get windows, unexpected opportunities to see each other. Other plans fall through, work lets out early, oh, and there’s such lovely drinking to be had. "What’s up tonight?" allows for, "maybe we’ll grab dinner." Or, "come over, and let’s bake and play Christmas music and sing like muppets!" But across the country it becomes, "What’s new?", which is never answered with details. It only asks for the general.
One friend used to IM me for wardrobe brainstorming before a party. It’s harder now. I don’t get to see her as often, no longer know which are her best pants or shoes. And there’s no longer cause for, "I ate at Irving Mill last night"–not because Irving Mill is a Danny Meyer knock-off, but–because when’s the next time I’m even going to New York? I’d only get food jealousy, anyway. The point is, I no longer get the dish on their dishes, dates, or dramas. I get the broad strokes. The panicked phone calls, the big news, the "we need to catch up already!" And I miss the unimportant and ordinary in my extraordinary friends. I miss ping-ponging phone calls, the "Shit, that’s him on the other line now. I’ll call you right after and tell you what he says."
When the grandparents are able to spend time with the tots, I notice they all take pride in observing. They feel more connected with Lucas and Abigail because of what they notice. "He rubs his ears when he’s tired." When they can speak of their grandchildren in details, it makes them feel like they know them, like they’re closer than they are. They can watch on the nanny cam’s we have stationed in the playroom, so they don’t miss out on the little things. "She took twelve consecutive steps today and seems to absolutely love the yellow car. Is that a bath toy?" All of us feel more intimately connected by what we know about others. And when we see it for ourselves, it’s tenfold.
Left with outlines, we get less to love. We miss the nuances, the everyday dramas, and in turn, the friendship we had. I fiercely love my friends and know they love me just the same. But it’s still different. I know each of them would drop everything if I needed them, and they know, I too, would schlep my ass across the country for them, kids in tow. And there’s comfort in that, but it doesn’t come with details.
Happy belated birthday, Smelly. I love you very much. Congratulations on your engagement, Alexandra (I’m honored to be a bridesmaid)! Dulce, how I miss all your sweet dilemmas, your sweet voice, and our crafty therapy sessions. I miss my Moniquey so, so much! And my Yasmin (it has been too long). Of course my sweet Amy and all her eye rolling, all the nicknames, all the love. And always, Miss Kimberlee. I miss Christine and her Christmas brownies, creative drinks with Miss Hillary, and wish I were there to see Jen K’s belly bloom. I hope Natalie is coming to Austin over the holidays to visit her sister, my Austin lovebug friend Lacey. I miss my close knit of New York chicklets (including the ones I haven’t mentioned) and wish they all had nanny cams.