Wasn’t it just yesterday that we exchanged tearful goodbyes before we went off to college?

We were so certain that everything would be different by the next time we saw each other. We were right; a lot has changed since August, not just us, but our hometown and our families, too. As we get closer to the holidays, I can’t help but think about when we’ll all be together again and wonder how it will be.

For the past four months, we’ve all been leading completely separate lives. College has led us to explore new horizons and make new memories, making us wonder how we could have ever possibly lived in our boring hometown when we could have been having this much fun. Sometimes, it’s almost impossible to imagine life before the altered reality that is living away at school.

But there was one.

Before the parties, cramped dorms, and difficult classes, there were seven periods, Friday night lights, and a group of friends that were (and still are) my everything. There were late night drives, slushies, songs we couldn’t get enough of—the list could go on forever with all the memories we made over those four fleeting years of high school. As I think about the people we were four months ago and the people we are today, I worry sometimes if we’ll ever get those good times back, those times when life was simple and we were all a five-minute’s drive away.

I know; melodramatic, right? But it’s true.

The memories we made together in our hometown were what defined us as we tried to navigate the world of college for the first time. Now our memories aren’t as interwoven; instead, they’re filled with stories we “just had to be there for”, unforgettable nights spent with new friends and fresh faces, and experiences we can’t all necessarily relate to. There is bound to be a certain distance between each of us that we haven’t felt before and may never make up for.

However, in every memory I’ve made at school, you’ve all been in the back of my mind, because how could you not be?

We may not be together, but whenever I feel nervous, scared, or sad, I turn to you, think about a funny or important memory we’ve shared, and instantly feel better. Yes, it’s naïve to think that everything will be the same we next time we see each other, because it won’t be. But you will never become less important to me just because all of our lives have changed. You all will still be the people I depend on when the going gets tough, when college gets to be too much, or when I just need a simple reminder of what amazing friends you all are to me.

Life will be different and so will we, but throughout these changes, we will still be the goofy, carefree best friends we always have been and always will be.