By Diane Gage Lofgren
During a busy week, when I’m working long hours or traveling and away from home, my lifeline to sanity are my virtual friends. No, you won’t catch me talking on the plane to an invisible being, but I will be keeping connected to my tribe via text, email, social media, and voice-to-voice calls.
It can get lonely out there when distance and time zones prevent you from grabbing a cup of coffee or bowl of soup with someone with whom you can open up and be yourself. While, for me, physically being there with my friends is first on my list of ways to interact, I’ll take these other touchstones in a pinch.
My sisters, Karen and Kathy, don’t live near me so keeping up to date on our lives is best when I can hear their voice. But I’ll get a group text from Karen with a picture of her husband planting their new vegetable garden and in a second my sister, Kathy, has chimed in with a pithy response. They both just made me smile and they never spoke a word to me.
Or, I may be boarding a plane and checking my emails when Noonie sends me one of her branded cheerful earful “Good morning sunshine” messages. Ah someone really cares that it’s 7 am, and I am long from home.
Later I’ll see a comment from her on Facebook, and I know we remain in sync. And then Pat will chime in with a kind comment or I’ll get an invite to one of Deb’s Happenings in Orange County. Even though I usually can’t make her monthly play dates, I love knowing what fun she’s schemed up — and that she wants to include me! And then Margaret will email with a fun idea to promote our book, and we’ll banter back and forth about how excited we are about an upcoming speaking engagement on what — oh yeah, how much we need women we want to grow old with!
It takes a particular mindset to look for these little and sometimes seemingly inconsequential moments when we deliberately foster communication and intentional friendship with a woman we want to have in our life and for a lifetime. When I do reach out in these ways, I am pleased to know that I am not letting the urgent misplace what is truly important to me.
I usually make a date to walk with Sidonie a local friend, at least once a month. Lately her travel schedule and mine have diverged. Still, she emails me with a “thinking of you update” on her life. Now I know where in the world Sidonie is! Then we take a few emails to check calendars and plan our next tennis-shoe rendezvous.
Lynn and I text our updates. A little, “Miss you” goes a long way in a day when you are missing everyone. I don’t know that Lynn is in Seattle and not on the island where we both live so I couldn’t be meeting her for lunch anyway, but she makes a point of reaching out, and so do I. We exchange a few texts and we’re good to go until we can be there in person.
My friendship with Leslie is based on a lifetime of knowing each other through it all, yet since we live on opposite ends of the state, our favorite time to connect is just after work. She’ll call me or I her on my way home, and in the 12-minute drive home, we have haiku-like therapy sessions. When I am away from home, it doesn’t stop. I’ll call Leslie from any hotel room just to have the soul connection that makes all right with the world again.
And since being by yourself in a city that is not your own gets old, I make sure to keep up other rituals that keep the bond between friends strong, like my headset walk-and-talk dates. So, the other day when a meeting ended early, I had a 45 minute break. I grabbed my tennis shoes and thankfully got in touch with my friend, Elizabeth. I walked and talked as if she was right there next to me. Ah, that felt good!
Whether your travel takes you across the globe or across town from your friends, reaching out and touching their lives and having them give a virtual hug back can brighten both your worlds. Fortunately, the glow of that heart touch warms your core just long enough until you reach out or are touched by one of your virtual angels again.
Yes, we could all be better at keeping in touch but these small yet mighty gestures go such a long way in our mutual commitment to stay connected and be there for each other throughout our lives.
Virtual hugs to you all!