The Art of Keeping in Touch
I think I was born with a wandering spirit. I find new places and experiences thrilling and I’m not afraid of change. I’ve found roots in Fort Worth, Nashville, New York, and now Austin, and spent most of my travel miles to visit beloved Kenya (and more recently, Australia). I used to dream about hopping from several different cities - to live an adventurous life as a New Yorker, a sophisticated life as a Parisian, and a quiet, introspective life on the English country-side. I feel thankful for the places I’ve found a home and for the different facets of life I’ve lived, but in all my naive dreaming I neglected the most important part of a full and happy life: the people.
Every hello has required a goodbye, some more heart-wrenching than others. When I think of things I miss about my time in Nashville, faces come to mind. When I think of things I miss about my time in New York, I re-live nights with friends. It isn’t the music, the buildings, the lifestyle, or even the food. It’s the people who made the place as magical as it was.
I often think about the art of keeping in touch with a tinge of guilt. It’s just about every day that an old friend comes up in conversation and I say to Matty, “Oh, I need to call her…” and he just gives me a knowing look. Because I said the same thing last week.
It’s quite overwhelming to think of all the people I’ve loved (and still do), and wonder if things would still be the same today as they were then. I’ll be honest with you, I struggle with sending a quick text to say “thinking of you” because I wonder if it’s enough. Isn't it too surface level? Shouldn't I owe them a long phone call, at least? To me, it feels like I'm offering the same sentiment as asking a stranger “How are you?” as we rush along on auto-pilot.
But then I think, I’d rather someone ask me how I am then just walk by. I’d rather someone tell me I was in their thoughts than just let it go because they don’t think it’s enough.
A few weeks ago I read an article about how to start the day happy and I flipped through casually, recognizing the usual tips (drink water, exercise, don’t rush…) before stopping on number 9 of 10: Be lavish with affection. I give Matty an embarrassing amount of hugs and kisses in the morning, but the writer said that in addition to showing her family love, she made a goal to send at least one email or text to a faraway friend every day before the work began. To her, this meant putting her relationships before the tasks of the day. The idea resonated strong within me and I haven’t been able to shake it ever since.
I’ve started taking steps to be better, tiny as they seem. After all, a tiny amount of love is still love in all it’s power. When someone comes to mind, I let them know. The crazy thing is that if I forget to tell them, they seem to lap back around in my thoughts until I do something about it. I believe this happens for a reason, and that human connection is a strong bond that can sustain time and distance.
Recently I’ve sent texts, emails, even had meals with old friends. Funny enough? I’ve started receiving it, as well - from a quick message to a tag on social media, it’s all the same, really. A warm reminder that the connection is not lost.
If you’re being held back for lack of time, I encourage you to find the space to connect again. Don’t neglect to let someone know that you’re thinking about them just because you can’t fit in an hour-long phone call today. We don’t always need to catch up, though a call with an old friend or faraway family member is no doubt invigorating and life-giving, but it is true what they say: it’s the thought that counts.
Tell me, how do you keep in touch with friends and family? I’d love to hear your tips and implement them in my own little quest!