Friends don’t have to be lost, sometimes we just have to travel to find them.
Change is part of adulthood. Responsibilities are gained. Schedules get busier. People move away. We lose track of our previous connections.
While facebook provides a portal for superficial friendship, how many of us use the platform to reach out to lost friends? Some will say that they do not have time, while others have an unease for reaching out to someone they have not spoken to in years. Through unease and complacency we breed habits of stagnation.
What is the cure? Travel of course.
I was listening to a song about a year ago. It was a song that a friend had shown me some five years before when I was living in North Carolina. The music brought back memories of my experiences and the friendships I had built during my short stint in the state.
After five years I had little to no contact with the people who had been so important in my everyday life. This had to change. I made a simple facebook post. A shout out to the friend who had shown me the song so long ago. Within minutes I received a call. We talked for hours, reminisced, caught up, and most importantly made plans.
Her 30th birthday was coming up in a few months and she wanted to travel. This provided a purpose to speak weekly which helped continue our connection. She eventually decided to visit St. Louis for the first time, my hometown. The years meant nothing once she arrived and we gallivanted through the city like only long lost friends can do. We rebonded through whiskey, wine and ramen.
Her departure was a sad one but within three months it was my turn. I arrived in Wilmington, NC after a 16 hour drive through the night to smiling faces and cold beer ready to be shared. Over the next four days I was shown all the beauty that is Wilmington. She guided me to the best brunch spots. She showed me through the delicious and artsy restaurant culture that pulses downtown. I was told the best ways to get from point a to point b. I was told which tourist traps to avoid and streets to circumvent after sundown.
Everywhere we went I was introduced to local friends, regional laws, state beers and some of the best food I have had in my life. Instead of feeling like an outsider, a tourist, I felt like I was learning to navigate my new home.
When experiencing a city through the eyes of a resident, you truly come to understand and love a place. A love that is much deeper than surface beauty and Tripadvisor reviews. While couchsurfing provides an individual similar opportunities, having a friendship prior to the trip grants an unprecedented connection with your surroundings.
You have a higher chance of being guided to experiences that fit your personality type (obviously friendships generally come from similar interests). You bond with the city as you bond with the person you traveled to see. You get to truly understand the aspects of daily life and are more likely to continue the links with the people you meet for the first time. I also can not fail to mention that a great deal of money is saved by shariing a friends home over purchasing a hotel. If you are a pet lover like me, you have a stronger possibility of being able to bring your favorite companion.
Not every outreach will end in the lucky reconnection I was given, but do you think that is a reason not to try? You have nothing to lose and everything to gain. I now have a new travel buddy we have made plans to meet up at a different location once a year.
It has also inspired me to reach out to other friends who have moved away or I have lost touch with. I traveled to the Florida Keys to visit a friend I had not spoken to in ten plus years. I traveled to Tampa to see one of my besties from High School. Now I look at a place I want to go and immediately check if I know someone who lives there.
I encourage everyone to reconnect. Put yourself out there get to new places and gain new experiences with old friends.