I'm terrible at long-distance relationships. I've never been good at it, even when I truly miss people a great deal. When I was in Hawaii, I sent out mass emails every few weeks (pre-blogging days) to just about everyone, and I had 2 or 3 friends that I was pretty good at writing to every other week or so. That was it, though. I never talked to anyone on the phone except my mom, and occasionally my grandmas. Yes, to my eternal shame, I wasn't even all that great at keeping my grandmas in the loop. For the decade that I lived in California, I rarely talked to anyone from "home" except my mom, and, with rare exception, it was she who called me. I am so grateful for that. She called me weekly for the first several years, and at least once a month, if not every other week, for the rest of the time I was in California. I emailed my girlfriends, or sent text messages to Sam, at completely random times, and I did try to call my Grandma pretty regularly. I never talked to my brothers and sisters (though we did interact online a fair amount after Facebook took off, and a couple of them were great about packages and stuff here and there), and only called or emailed my dad a handful of times in all those years. As much as I missed home, I wasn't great at staying in touch with all the people who lived there when I wasn't physically there myself.
When I left California, it was even worse. By the time that we left, I was worn so very, very thin. I was angry, exhausted and my heart was mostly broken, and to top it all off I had to upend my whole life and my children's lives--for me it was "going home", to some degree, but for them and Doug, it was starting over completely, and with no solid future ahead of us yet, or even enough money to buy groceries. On top of that, it had been 10 years since I had spent more than 5 consecutive days with any member of my family or in Montana. I retreated into that. Church on Sunday was about the only time I socialized with anyone other than my family. I really made no effort to see even extended family that I had wanted to visit with for years. I spent most of my time with my mom and my brothers and sisters and their kids, and my grandma. I spent very little time talking to anyone else. My phone broke rather completely on the drive up (it was shattered and squished all at once), so I quickly lost contact with most of the world. Most of my writing revolved around intense focus on the things that I loved and missed about Lindsay, most especially the amazing people there, in hopes that with enough effort and focus on such things, eventually the love and gratitude for what I was blessed with there would overcome and wash away the anger and hurt. And it did. It took time, but it did.
I am so grateful for all the individuals in my life who succeed where I tend to fail. Above all else, my mom, who always made the necessary effort to stay in close contact with me, and did everything she could to spend as much time with me and her grandkids for all the years we were far away. But not just her. Despite having no phone and not being great about checking my email, so many friends found ways to reach me and stay in touch. Amanda regularly called Doug's phone to talk to me. Angie, Emily, and Karen all sent Facebook message or emails just see how things were going and to let me know they were thinking about me (us). Julia and Emily sent Christmas cards and left comments on Facebook posts and photos. Once I got a phone again, I started getting text messages fairly regularly from my closest friends (all of whom are as phone phobic as I am), and, of course, phone calls from Amanda :)
Sam is always the best. We won't hear from each other at all for months, or even a year, and then one day one of us will text the other and the conversation is off and running as though we'd just talked last week. We ended up being able to make our Utah trip long enough that we were able to run up and visit her, and its so wonderful to have someone in your life that, no matter how long its been since you've seen each other or talked, you can start right where you left off as though the intervening months had just been a blip. No getting back into the groove, no feeling each other out, just at ease. I had actually had a difficult morning before getting to her house, and was a bit out of sorts, but that just didn't quite matter any more once I got there.
I was reminded of all this again this last week, when my sister-in-law called. We moved from California in November 2011, and then she and her family moved the following March. We haven't seen each other and have scarcely spoken (save for Facebook interaction) in all that time. She called me last Sunday to tell me the funny small-world news that, having just recently moved to Reno, she ended up in the same ward as my uncle, and we ended up talking for a while. She was the first of Doug's sisters that I came to love, and though they have all been good friends to me in various ways, she is the one that, in many ways, has felt the most like a sister to me. As we talked, I realized how much I've missed her, and we both talked about how we're not great at long-distance communication and need to be better.
And I do need to be better, because there are a lot of people in my life that I love and miss, whose lives and welfare I am interested in, and they deserve to hear it more often. In the era of email, Facebook, telephones and Skype, what excuses do I have?