Closing the distance on friendships

Aunt Frances, who I’ve seen maybe 10 times in my whole life says, “Hi Deb”, in that familiar way to me. No one calls me Deb. It’s never been my nickname but when she says it, I feel an immediate warmth.

Patt does the same in an email and while we’ve lived in different states for 30 years that familiarity in her words makes the time dissolve.

But don’t push it, new guy.

I won’t take it from just anyone. Coming from some people’s mouths it sounds fake, more like a sales person pretending we’re pals.

When I was a kid, friendships seemed to make themselves. You played with others who were nice to you, who liked the same games and weren’t much better at them or smarter than you. You liked people who were….like you. Mostly.

You didn’t go looking for friends like you, but for most of us, it’s a natural gravitation. Birds of a feather and all that.

It was easy in early childhood because kids are honest and honesty didn’t hurt back then. Everything seemed to be easily explained away or you just learned to stay away from the mean kids.

Things got trickier in adolescence as groups became more defined. Again, friendships developed by common interests. The band kids hung out with other band kids. Usually.

That’s when it got hard for me. That’s when we started moving every six months. A new state, a new school with new words and rules and groups. The same, but a Texas accent or Marylands urban lifestyle or Utah’s snow for four months and learning what LDS meant.

When the moving became a pattern I stopped trying to make friends. It never came easy anyway. What was the point when we were going to move again.

I get a little envious when I hear people talk about having friends since kindergarten or high school. Maybe that’s why my brother and I are so close or my cousin who’s 5 years my junior. There’s not a time when they haven’t been part of my memory. We share something that no one else is part of.

Visiting friends in London
With friends on the Spanish Steps in Rome

When we entered full time ministry it meant we’d be moving again. But during that time the internet came along and friends that I’ve made haven’t been lost to distance.

Keeping up with others through Facebook, however, isn’t a substitute for being in the same space that warms with their presence. Social media is better than the days of long distance phone calls and waiting for a letter to arrive in the post. Maybe not better, just more immediate and that often seems better.

For me, friendship is best lived face to face, as you are with those who get you. They get my opinionated remarks, my taste in music, my casual style, my love of sweet tea and funny stories and deep talks.

It is often this small group of friends who help me through life. All of them from a distance, but we’re constantly creating space for grace.

Maybe the words of that James Taylor song we grew up with are right:

“You just call out my name
and you know wherever I am
I’ll come running to see you again.
Winter, spring, summer or fall,
all you have to do is call and I’ll be there…..
you’ve got a friend.”

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16 Comments

  1. One of these days, our paths will cross and we’ll meet face to face. Meanwhile, Praise God for the internet. Your friend, Sally O.

    June 14, 2017
    Reply
    • Debby Hudson said:

      Yes, oh yes, Sally, most thankful for the connections I’ve made through the internet, you being one!

      June 14, 2017
      Reply
  2. sarahgirl3 said:

    I moved around some as a kid and can relate to being jealous of kids who went to school together since they were little. It seemed so exotic to me. 🙂 I now have a few close friends, even though we have been in the same place. They are enough for me!

    June 14, 2017
    Reply
    • Debby Hudson said:

      Me too, Sarah, I’m happy with the close circle, I just wish we weren’t spread so far apart.

      June 14, 2017
      Reply
  3. Susan Shipe said:

    Uh oh, I know I’ve called you Deb. Never again, Debby. I love that camper drawing – did you do it?

    June 14, 2017
    Reply
    • Debby Hudson said:

      Susan, PLEASE keep calling me Deb. Even though I’ve never heard your voice, there’s something about the way it ‘sounds’ when you write it that has made me feel like we’re old friends. You don’t, at all, fit the profile I was describing. And yes, I did the wonky camper drawing. Finally brave enough to post things I know aren’t perfect (which is everything 😉

      June 14, 2017
      Reply
  4. Hi Debby. You’ve given me a fresh perspective. I’ve lived in the same town for all but 2 years of college, and I have several friendships that have lasted over 30 years. You’ve taught me to treasure them a bit more than before. But I also enjoy making more friends like you in the blog world!

    June 15, 2017
    Reply
    • Debby Hudson said:

      I can’t even imagine that Sarah. But I am thankful to have been given a time in my life to grow some roots. And now I’m thankful for blogging friends too. It’s richer than I would have imagined.

      June 15, 2017
      Reply
  5. Liz Giertz said:

    What a great post! As an Army wife, saying “see ya later” happens all too often, but I’m so thankful for all the friends I’ve made over the years! Blessings!

    June 15, 2017
    Reply
    • Debby Hudson said:

      You know first hand, Liz. Social media has helped bridge the gap hasn’t it?

      June 15, 2017
      Reply
  6. Brenda said:

    Debby, I hear ya. Making friends as a busy adult is so much harder than it was when we were young. We’ve moved a lot too, and I’ve often struggled to find my people. I think we’d get along well though–since we share a sentiment for the greatest drink on earth too. Sweet tea. 🙂 Great to connect with you at #ChasingCommunity today. ((hug))

    June 15, 2017
    Reply
    • Debby Hudson said:

      I’m finishing a glass that sweet nectar right now Brenda 😉 Blogging has brought many new connections and it’s been so good. Glad to have discovered the #ChasingCommunity tribe.

      June 15, 2017
      Reply
  7. I’ve been on both sides of that friendship coin – having lived the first 18 years of my life in the same town and maintaining a couple of lifelong friendships from that time and then living about half my married life moving from place to place making friendships a little harder to keep. I can totally understand why a teenage girl moving so frequently would tend to close herself off to making friends. But, oh how glad I am that you’ve opened yourself up to new possibilities. Otherwise, I would never have been able to call you my friend. And one of these days, we will sit face to face and enjoy the ‘warm presence’ of our friendship!

    June 15, 2017
    Reply
    • Debby Hudson said:

      I was so wary of the internet connections at first Cindy. But now I’m just thankful. I do feel real friendship can grow and am glad to have you in my garden. xx

      June 16, 2017
      Reply
  8. Janice said:

    Rejoicing in the friend memories that were created during our travels together. What a great photo of us at the Spanish Steps. What fun we had!!

    June 17, 2017
    Reply
    • Debby Hudson said:

      Janice, I’ll always remember the great times we had on that trip with you and Earl and Oma. What a fun group we were! I’d travel with you anywhere. xx

      June 17, 2017
      Reply

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