The Plot Thickens

Photo: Taelar Pollmann ⋅ The Sentry

Photo: Taelar Pollmann ⋅ The Sentry

Long Distance

According to my calculations, I have three best friends from Alabama: Dwight, Asher, and Brendan. While I haven’t seen any of them face to face since summer 2018, I try my best to keep in contact with them, even across the country.

My best is a bit different than most: I really hate keeping up long distance relationships. I would classify this as one of my not-so-great qualities. I may love my friends dearly but that doesn’t mean I want to or even do talk to them frequently.

I text Dwight fairly often and we call each other probably twice in as many months. With Asher and Brendan, it’s worse. I text them… sometimes. I call them… a handful of times per year. I feel guilty when I say things like that because, at least to me, it sounds as if I do not care about them.

I’ve given much thought to why I am this way and why I can treat people I really care about like this: the answer to that would be proximity. There’s an idea in psychology that we care most about whatever is closest to and most frequently seen by us. Yes, that’s an oversimplification, but it sums up exactly my situation. I spend most of my time focusing on those physically closest to me and those I see constantly. It just makes sense, and part of me cares very little about the drama of my friends lives when it doesn’t really involve me. Is that narcissistic?

As a person, I only have so much emotional and mental capacity to care about things, so I have to prioritize situations that directly involve me over those that don’t. It also means that I don’t often feel like having a three or more hour phone conversation, even though I love the people on the other end of the line.

Over this time in isolation, I’ve gotten in touch with my three best friends from Alabama. They’re my best friends for many reasons, including the fact that unlike others I know from my hometown, I haven’t outgrown Asher, Brendan, or Dwight. When I talk to them, it does bring me joy. I like hearing their voice. I’ve started trying to be a better friend and text them more often, call them when I can emotionally handle it in the midst of everything else happening in my life and the world right now. But maybe because of our global situation, I’ve realized even more that I care about them and their well-being, even if I am terrible at showing it enough.

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