Friends from Afar

When I am asked the common icebreaker question, “If you could go anywhere in the world right now, where would you go?” I give an uncommon answer: Maryland. This often gets laughs, but honestly, I’m not kidding. My best friends live in Maryland, and I am perpetually counting down the days until my next visit.


Generally, long-distance friendships form after high school, as we spread to different colleges and eventually different cities in young adulthood. However, I have the unique experience of having had a plethora of long-distance friendships throughout my high school years. For the past three summers, I’ve attended programs through B’nai B’rith Youth Organization. These draw participants from almost every U.S. state and several countries. I’ve gone into each of these as one of the only teens from Michigan, and left deep friendships with people from Maryland, New York, Texas, Georgia, Colorado, Alabama, and more.


At first, these long-distance friendships frustrated and saddened me. Looking through social media made my heart physically ache, because I missed my friends so intensely. I wished daily that all of my friends would move to Michigan or that I could move to them. Especially when I was going through friend drama and social issues at home, I felt almost like I was grieving for those who lived so far away.


However, after a few plane rides and hundreds of hours on FaceTime, I realized that these people weren’t going anywhere. My sadness started to melt away, and I found the silver linings of these far-away friends. When I was angry with someone at home, I typed in a phone number that didn’t start with 248, and was granted immediate access to my own private rant session. I had no fear that anything I said would get back to anyone, because these friends didn’t know anybody else here. They were on my side unconditionally. 


I also began to find the fun in friendships with those who don’t live near me. I can’t begin to count the amount of hilarious conversations I’ve had with my friends about the correct pronunciations of words (I apparently have a very strong Midwestern accent, but I will forever stand by the way I say “mom” and “Snapchat”). I’ve found that another benefit of long-distance friendships is that every once in a while, one of my friends and I will plan a weekend together. These visits have become one of the highlights of my high school years. They are so incredible because we know that we only have so long before we’re ripped miles apart once again, so there’s no room for boredom or arguing- every minute is pure joy and love and laughter.


Overall, I still wish that I was in Maryland right now, but I’ve learned to see the greatness in these sometimes heart-wrenching relationships. As we grow from high school and our friends scatter around the globe, it helps to keep in mind that long-distance friendships are special in their own unique way.