And it’s already playing out fabulously. This morning while I was deep conditioning my hair, it occurred to me that it has been almost a month since I graduated. I was thinking about what I’ve done in this first almost-month, and feeling pretty smug: I had witnessed the doctor tell my mother that she’s now cancer-free, successfully grilled food at a huge BBQ in my little sister’s honor, gone place-to-live hunting, been chosen as my new housemates’ first choice, been approved for the lease all by myself with no cosigner, bargain shopped for new home essentials, hung out with a few friends from home, vegged out on my couch for days, moved, unpacked, grocery shopped, made dinners that wowed my housemates and turned into lunches that my coworkers were jealous of, been complimented on my outfit nearly every day by at least one person, had two guys ask for my number while I was walking home from work, and received commendations on my work at work from someone else with my job title and then, through my direct supervisor, from a senior survey researcher who is evidently quite hard to please. My boss said, and I quote, “If you can please [name redacted], you can please anyone at [my company].” I had transitioned fairly painlessly to the 7:30am to 12:30am lifestyle. I’d experimented with my hair to find cute styles for work. I’d cleaned my entire house from kitchen to bedroom. Was there anything I hadn’t done?
And then I thought of all the people I hadn’t talked to, and my sense of accomplishment dwindled a little. I was keeping in regular contact with KS (text and AIM) and EY (Skype and text). I’d talked to SO (gchat) and DG (facebook chat) a few times, JB (gchat) and JA (an actual phone call) once. But they’re a tiny fragment of the people who are important to me from my life at Princeton. They’re certainly not the only people to whom I meant it when I said that we’d keep in touch.
So how to fix this? I could be like RG and call people randomly, but, while I appreciate that, it can feel a little intrusive. (When did that happen? Phone calls used to be what I lived for. Oh, the days of middle and high schools.) Okay, so not random phone calls. Or, yes random phone calls, but only to people with whom I’m close enough that intrusion is welcome.
Then I thought about all the people I saw on gchat/Facebook chat/Skype every day and didn’t click on their names to have a conversation with them. It’s like there’s some line I established somewhere between people I’m allowed to just talk about anything/nothing/whatever with, to shoot the proverbial shit with, and some people I have to have something to say to in order to message. As no sooner had that thought completed itself than I realized the degree to which it is utter and complete bullshit. And it’s the exact brand of bullshit that causes people to never ever keep in touch.
I have a simple message for the world. Though I don’t like it as an initial message on dating sites, between friends or close acquaintances who haven’t talked in a while, “Hey! What’s up?!” is something to say. “How’d moving to [insert city here] go?” is something to say. “How’s your new job?” is something to say. “How are you entertaining yourself before grad school?” is something to say. Yes catch-up conversations can feel a little interview-y, but would you rather feel like you’re asking too many questions or have to have a two hour conversation next year at reunions because you haven’t spoken at all? In reality, you’re not going to want to waste two hours of partying, which means you could never have that two hour conversation (which will need to become longer and longer as more time passes).
So, new rule: If I see someone that I call a friend (rather than someone I call “this girl/guy I know”) pop up on gchat or Facebook chat and I haven’t communicated with this friend in some form in the last two weeks, I must message them just to say hey. To see what’s up. To shoot the shit. I’m going to say hi because there’s no reason not to, and every reason to. The best way to stay in touch…is to stay in touch. You don’t have to play catch-up if you never leave “the know”. So I want to stay there with as many people as I can.
Since this afternoon, I’ve had conversations with four people that I care about, but might not have talked to for months or longer if I thought I needed something specific to say to them. I feel so plugged in to the world right now. I didn’t realize how much I felt like I was living on an island away from everyone I know. But just like that, in ten minutes of catching up, I remember all the bridges we’ve mad and feel so connected. The simple joys of just saying hey.