CONNECT CREATIVELY Simple, fun ways to make meaningful connections with friends.
When friends are scattered far and wide, staying in touch in ways that feel signi cant can be hard. But as Anna Alicia has found, creativity can enrich your lives with a deeper connection.
During a month when two close friends left the city we’ve shared and two more loved ones announced their plans to move – one to the coast, one across the ocean – I’ve been thinking a lot about keeping in touch, about staying connected to the people I love, wherever they are.
It can be a wonderful thing to have friends and family spread across the globe, as so many of us do; to see loved ones being where they need or want to be, for now or maybe for always, fulfilling dreams or just trying new things, coming home from travels with new friendships and lasting bonds. But there can be loss and disconnection in the distances between us too – not being able to pop round for a cuppa or o er a hug. Even when the distances aren’t great, it can be hard to keep in touch in ways that feel meaningful and signi cant, to keep connections going.
There are so many ways to stay in touch now, at any distance. A quick text or social media update, a Skype chat or email can be invaluable. But sometimes something more tangible is needed, something to hold, perhaps even to plant and watch grow, or just to pop on a shelf to glance at. Something slower.
This is where my love of sending (and receiving!) things in the post comes in.
My friend Rachel and I used to live just a few streets apart and before that we shared classrooms and corridors at school. I moved away to London in my early 20s while she stayed closer to our geographical roots. We’re not far apart, as the crow ies, but not ‘popping round’ distance either, especially factoring in childcare logistics. So we began a practice of sending one another things in the post. Just little things, nothing big or expensive.
Recently, an envelope a little fatter than a bill, but still small, dropped through my door. I recognised Rachel’s handwriting and smiled. Sitting at my kitchen table I opened the envelope to nd a card and herbal tea bags tucked inside. I can’t remember now what the note said but I remember feeling cared for as I made myself a cup of tea and settled down to work.
I sent Rachel a tiny brooch I found in the shape of a bird once, at a time when I thought she might need
“Sometimes something more tangible is needed, something to hold, perhaps even to plant and
a talisman of freedom. And a few weeks ago I sent nasturtium seeds I had harvested last year from my crowded balcony garden. She sent me a postcard from the seaside.
We text and call too, and follow each other’s Instagram accounts, and of course we visit whenever we can. But there’s something special, and necessary, in this practice of sending things in the old-fashioned post, just now and then, that’s right for us. The joy of having something to open, to discover, never goes away for me. Similarly, the comfort of glancing at a postcard sat on my shelf or my new stash of herbal tea makes our friendship feel present in my own home, in spite of the distance.
A card is often enough as a gesture to make someone feel cared for and thought of. I’m one of those people who like to keep a collection of cards at the ready. Cards I’ve made, cards I’ve picked up at craft fairs or bought in my (gorgeous) local East London gift shop. My toddler is in on the act now too – we make cards together covered in shiny sh stickers, washi tape and scribbles.
Cards for birthdays, new homes and congratulations are great, but my favourites are cards that could be for any, or no, occasion – those are the ones I’m really after for my stash! Because, while I’m all for celebrating at any excuse, sometimes I just want to send a card to say ‘hello’ or ‘hope you’re okay’ or (perhaps with a little bar of chocolate inside, which is always very welcome) ‘I’m thinking of you’.
“Thinking about what kind of gestures might
keep a relationship
some unique ideas.”
Of course, there’s no ‘right’ way to keep in touch. We have to nd the best way for each relationship at each time. Thinking about what kind of gestures might keep a relationship ourishing, and the people within it feeling connected, might lead to some unique ideas. We can try things out and maybe start some new practices of keeping in touch that are personal to each of us. We can share the joy of receiving a card ‘just because’ or a tiny package that’s a mysterious surprise.
So maybe it’s a good time to dig out your address book and your stamps and let someone know you’re thinking of them. Whether you deepen a bond with an already close friend, or reconnect with someone after some time, your life will certainly be richer for it.
FACE TO FACE
If you’re connecting in person, put your phone away so you can give your full attention to the present moment and the person
MAKE IT PERSONAL
Tried a new recipe? Post a copy to a foodie friend. Read a great book? Send a review. Funny news stories, a joke, a poem – share them with likeminded loved ones.