Earlier this fall I was at a small dinner party with one of my childhood girlfriends, when we were posed the question: “…is that where your community is?”
We were “home” for the weekend- Maddie, back from Washington D.C. to visit her parents and the family ranch before starting another long semester of graduate school at Georgetown, and I had made the relatively short, but increasingly more populated drive from Downtown Denver to South Boulder with the promise of crisp white wine and her mother’s homemade Barbecue.
I don’t know why, but I think this question caught both of us off-guard. Causing us to look quizzically at one another and really process if our new respective cities, however temporary or not they are, would be where we consider our “community” to be. To be honest I don’t think either of us had a solid answer.
Because, while I think it’s important to pursue relationships in your current town that create a sense of community, that’s just it- “current” doesn’t always mean forever, or reflect where you’ve been.
In an article by Annie Battles for Darling magazine, she describes what I think is a pretty common existence for our generation. Constantly moving around in our early twenties from our hometowns, to school, to cities abroad, to following jobs, or more education, or romantic relationships, or even just a yearning to keep seeing new places.
“Each time my heart touched a new corner of the compass, it was dipped the color of a precise place and its people. This mosaic of places now tinting my heart reflects the nature of my communities: externally scattered, internally fused as one.
Here’s the thing: while those transitory four years were unique, I am not. Maintaining close ties in multiple places is a common experience, the new normal. We are a generation on the move, allured by new cities and spurred forward by unfelt experiences.”
So to answer the question, no. I don’t necessarily think this is where my community is, because it would be excluding a majority of the most important people that make up my tribe. Proximity no longer goes hand-in-hand with community.
However, I think if we want to maintain those relationships and be filled by our nomadic communities, we have to work a little harder than the generations before us. Because most of us don’t get to see most of our community on a day to day basis, it’s important pursue those relationships even harder, otherwise they can become victim of being left behind.
With that, here are three ways to continue cultivating your modern community:
1. Budget for your Village
I mean this for both your time and money. It’s a new year and I bet a lot of us have looked at how we’re doing with our current budget (not great amiright?) and maybe tweaking things for the next 11 months ahead (prospects are high). Maybe this year include some extra cash for a travel fund. Set aside both finances and a few precious PTO days to go visit someone. I feel really lucky to consider my childhood and high school friends as some of the most important people in my life, but I think it’s a larger testament to our dedication to our friendship. We set aside at least ONE weekend every year where we leave behind husbands, boyfriends, school requirements and work demands so that we can be present in our friendship, and it has made ALL the difference.
2. Schedule Dates
All those memes about feeling relieved when plans get cancelled… they’re speaking to my soul. There’s something about getting to the end of a long work day and subtly dreading following through with plans that you made earlier in the week when you were feeling revived from the five hour mid day nap you had on Sunday. BUT, I hate being a flake, and EVERY time I get together for a friend date I’m reminded of how important that person is in my life and how much I’ve missed them. Even if you can’t grab coffee or a drink, setting aside deliberate time to catch up with a friend across the country for a little phone date will continue to cultivate those friendships that are important to you.
3. Embrace your inner Pen Pal
I’m a huge proponent of hand-written notes. I think it’s a lost art form, something our grandparent’s generation was so good at but we’ve begun to fall a little short. With technology moving a mile a minute, spending a little extra time with a hand-written note conveys an added level of thoughtfulness to a long distant friendship. My sweet friend Emily is the BEST at this. Throughout college, I would get little notes sporadically throughout the semester from Oregon reminding me how much she cares. As an added treat she usually slipped in a little Starbuck’s gift card so it would be like we were having our favorite vanilla latte’s together #blessed.
While it may not be ideal living thousands of miles apart and across multiple time zones from the people that make up your tribe, it’s certainly not impossible to foster and maintain those important relationships that add a little extra sparkle to your life.
Turtleneck: Top Shop
Extensions: Barefoot Blonde Hair