“I AM leaving for Thailand on Monday.”
“For vacation? That’s nice!”
My mouth flew open as my brain tried to process those two words. My best friend – someone I have known for two decades and someone who have watched me grow acne and boobies – just announced that she was leaving three days before her Iloilo-Manila-Bangkok flight and there I was, devouring sticks of chicken inasal in another island!
The announcement came as a bomb as I thought she was sure to decline the job offer. Besides, her business in Iloilo needs her. But her passport, working visa and travel luggage were ready. She was leaving for good. And as much as I wanted to show support to the girl who made me borrow Sexbomb dancers’ album over a decade ago and did the “Get, get awww!” together, I felt numb.
So that was how it felt – to be left by someone who has been such a permanent fixture in your life. I was left by people before, but this one hit home. I am so used to goodbyes but this one throbbed deep – something that created a heavy pang of emptiness inside my bones. It felt unreal, but Jen’s voice made it so clear: she was leaving.
So here I am – days after she left – writing this to try to conceal this emptiness. Today, I went home to our town and it was a longtime habit of mine to text Jen that I was home. As I was typing my message, it struck me – home feels a little different now. I have to live with the fact that she’s not physically here; that now, she is already in another country when we have always been just houses away.
“I went home today. You were not there,” I messaged her on Facebook.
“Visit me here soon please,” she replied after two hours.
The thing about having a long-distance relationship with your best friend is that you fear being left out, that she will make new friends and will eventually forget about you. Thus, it is important to maintain the friendship no matter how it takes.
My friendship with Jen is already part of my lifeline. So we vowed to make this work through these things:
Videochat often. Admit it: seeing your best friend after a long, chaotic day makes everything better. Calling each other on Skype or Messenger should be a part of your week. This way, both of you won’t fear missing out on things. Update each other even on the smallest things in life – new relationships, new job, new dog, new hobby. Letting her know about the simple changes in your life will make her feel that – despite the distance – she is still a big part of you.
Sending postcards and occasional packages. I am an old-school person. I still love receiving postcards and handwritten letters because they make me feel remembered. Sending occasional gifts also makes your best friend feel that you care about her. Is her birthday coming? Send her something special.
Letting each other grow. The culture in another country is different from the Philippines. Your friend will find new friends and enjoy new hobbies. Whatever change it is – as long as you know it’s for her good – support her. Let her grow. Her life should not revolve around you. I know people who are in long-distance relationships with their best friends who stop their buddies from hanging out with others. Don’t make the friendship toxic and damaging by being too controlling. Space is always good. Growth is important.
Keep the secrets coming. Trust is important in every relationship. Despite the distance, make it a point to still tell secrets to your best friend. Maintain the private space between the two of you.
Meeting somewhere. It is time to fulfill those #travelgoals and #friendshipgoals by visiting a place together. Save up for your dream destination with your BFF and learn new things about each other.
Visit. I know it’s hard for some. The good thing about my situation is that Thailand is just a three-hour plane ride away. Airlines have also been competitive in offering discounted fares. When you have time (and money, of course), visit your BFF. You know that the distance is worth every penny./PN