Through a combination of traveling all my life and being a part of a variety of communities over time, I've been fortunate to get to know people from many different parts of the world. Some of the closest people in my life live halfway across the country or halfway across the world. This is a pain when I'm looking for a couple of people to have a night on the town with, but I consider it far more of a positive than a negative. With friends in every corner of the world, I'm exposed to new cultures, have friendly faces to visit when I travel and value my relationships even more because of the distance.
I'm the type of person who doesn't like routine and therefore is always trying new things. This means that I have a chance to get to know handfuls of new people at a time, and while I'm not the most sociable person, I usually form a true connection with a few and hang on to those friendships when we go our separate ways. I've acquired these connections from many places over time, adding a couple of new numbers in my phone or friends on my Facebook page each time. I make my best effort to keep up with communication because the relationships are worth the work, and it's always been rewarding, no matter how hard it is to go without seeing these people for long periods of time.
But no matter how rough it can be when everything's going wrong and the people that matter most aren't around to comfort you in person, or when you're on top of the world and all you want to do is celebrate with those who stood by your side as you got there, just having those friends in your life is enough. The amount of bliss that comes from a long past due Skype call or a text from another continent that tells you you're on someone's mind is a type of happiness that only can be created by genuine friendship. "Absence makes the heart grow fonder" may be a cliche that's usually met with bitter resentment, but the reward you receive for a friendship you've worked for makes you proud of each other and even more grateful for the connection you have together.
And on top of gaining a rewarding and lifelong friendship, knowing people all over means that traveling is a much more inviting experience. Even being able to grab coffee with a long-distance friend can make you feel more comfortable in a strange environment, and more often than not, these friends welcome you into their families and offer much better information about their homeland than any travel guide or museum could.
So to my friends across the country, continent and globe, thank you for being a part of my life. We may struggle to communicate on a regular basis because of our busy schedules or are unable to be together in person for years on end, but know for sure that time and distance have done nothing to diminish my feelings for you. I'm so grateful for the connection we have together and I'll see you soon.