Long Distance Friendship

It took me a while to figure out the whole meeting new people thing. I ungracefully stumbled through transition (ok, maybe more like violently crashed) until my sophomore year of college, when I met a group of women whose warmth and acceptance changed not only how I saw myself, but how I understood relationship. They were passionate, ambitious, and out of this world smart, but also kind in a way that valued openness above a veneer of perfection. Our friendship is the kind that you hold on to and never want to let go, and really I struggled when graduation approached because it meant we were to be flung across the world in search of the dreams that brought us to Georgetown. Today, they are doctors, social workers, social entrepreneurs, policy advocates at the United Nations, and educators (like I said out of this world smart) and despite the fact that we now live thousands of miles away from each other, our sporadic emails keep us wound together. We may not ever live in the same city again, but I know we will always be there for one another as long distance cheerleaders, confidants, and sounding boards, no matter how life turns.

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The last time we were all together at my wedding in 2012!

Jeff and I were lucky enough to visit Anya and her husband Sam in Geneva at the end of our ski trip to France this January, and my heart pretty much bubbled over with happiness. On top of being ridiculous amazing hosts and really helping us make the most of our few days in Switzerland, I loved just being able to talk to Anya, falling back into friendship despite years and milestones between us.

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After we took a dip in the hot springs, a cultural experience for sure!

This post isn’t really about Switzerland, but enjoy this picture interlude.

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Gruyere, Switzerland: Home of really incredible cheese.

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My love of cows is kind of getting out of hand.

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The gardens of a Swiss castle with the Alps in the background.

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Gruyere and the Alps

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More Swiss mountains

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Even more Swiss mountains

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I wish I had more pictures of the UN, but I was having too much fun.

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These trees, which remind me of whomping willows, are all over certain parts of Europe. Supposdely in the summer they bloom impressively and are decidedly less ugly. According to Sam’s mother, who I believe is an authority on all things, said that Napoleon planted these trees all along his parade route so he would never have to feel the oppressive heat while his people were worshiping him.

Our time together reminded me of the incredible persistence of friendship founded on vulnerability. When I left DC, I was so concerned that I would never find friends like these women again. And while that is of course true, they are truly irreplaceable, when Jeff and I moved to Ventura, we were intentional about finding friends to share our lives with, not just spend time with, but to dig into the messy parts of life with. Friends like we had known at St. Peter’s by the Sea where we first met. Friends like Bri and David, who no joke, almost got on a plane to come meet us in Morocco next week with their one year old, but Scotland this spring ended up making more sense.

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Celebrating with St Peter’s at Josh and Natalie’s wedding two days before we left for Scotland.

And in Ventura in our intentional, vulnerable mess, we found Orchard Community Church. Our family at Orchard means so much to us, and whether it is through a Facebook comment or a text message, their love and prayers are no less tangible than when we were together every Sunday.

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Youth ministry for the win.

So as time seems to be racing on here in Scotland, I am once again grateful for our new friends here in St Andrews. Friendships that have formed so deeply in a short amount of time. Friendships born out of a willingness to chuck social appropriateness to the wind and go out on a limb for community. Living some place for one year doesn’t really leave you a lot of time to sit at home and wonder if it is ok to invite someone over for dinner after a chance meeting on the street. Graduate school and especially graduate school in another country tends to speed up the friendship timeline.

So this Saturday my friend Becky and I got to throw a baby shower for our friend Kim. It may not be a Scottish tradition or a German one (Kim is German), and even though we have known each other for months not years, we got to celebrate this moment with her, a thrown together collection of nationalities and backgrounds and life stages, all bound together by this quirky little town.

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I stole this picture from Becky.

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Yeah for Kim and Baby Brockhaus!

And so we are in this strange place of missing friends from home, buliding new community here, and already preparing for the next step, the next move. In the last few weeks we started applying for jobs for next year, and this week I had a moment freaking out about the thought of leaving again. It is just too soon! You would think I would have gotten the hang of this by now. But the idea of leaving community often holds people back from taking chances, and I completely understand why.  Leaving hurts. Yet when I think about all the people in my life who had made such a profound impact on how I see the world, distance has shown again and again to only be one part of the equation. From DC to LA to Ventura to St Andrews our community is much more about the who then the where.

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Our awesome small group!

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2 thoughts on “Long Distance Friendship

  1. +1 for cheese/cow themed photo interlude.

    Your writing is perfect, Hayley (as usual). I’ve always been so impressed with how you two have built such great communities wherever you are, and I’m so happy to be a part of your global people-friends.

    Also, I’m still not entirely convinced that flying out to meet you in Morocco in 10 days for a week is a bad idea. For the record.

  2. Pingback: Old Friends and Ancients Lands | Chasing Alethea

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