Modern Nomads Unite!

When I lived in Copenhagen, geographic coordinate synchronization was like a game: armed with ryanair & easyjet, my friends and I did what we could to meet in different cities when possible. I met USC buddy Katie in Amsterdam, and reminisced the crazy adventure we had Spring break 09 (?) in Costa Rica. I was reunited with my twin-like sister Jennifer in Cinque-terre and Venice. (I recall evening of delicious pasta and wine. Fun.) I met up with Jules in London and then again in Dublin, and later she has made an appearance in Los Angeles, and I must not fail to mention this year we met up again in Bali.

These kinds of moments, like the multiple encounters with Jules, mean the world to me.

I’ve begun to compartmentalize my friendships. It’s not simply virtual versus real; my friendships in general are filed into categories like “work friends from Roberto’s” or “work friends from Sushi Roku West Hollywood” or “Mercer Island HS” or “Copenhagen circa Fall 2010” or “USC Lacrosse,” or “MISIP peeps,” or “Saturday Japanese school classmates,” or “Hollywood clubbers,” or “Drank house family” or… You get the idea. I’ve always grouped my friends like this, but now that we can organize them via lists on facebook, the compartmentalization is obvious.

But what about my nomadic friendships—the ones that are put on hold in the physical world for most of the year, and re-materialize when I visit someone or when she/he visits me? These relationships blur the lines. They’re real, they’re maintained and nurtured virtually. I’m not saying I don’t consider them friends in the traditional sense, but our friendships have matured differently, and at a distinct pace, than my location-locked friendships. These friends, when we’re together, we get right to it: we cover the spectrum, we get deep, and we laugh our asses off—we make the time together count. As I get older, most of my best friends and I have grown further apart geographically, and these key relationships, too, have turned increasingly nomadic.

As I entered the workforce (officially two week!s in), I came to realize one of my goals in life. To make enough money to I fly to visit my closest buddies when possible, and if there’s one thing I want to pledge to do diligently, it’s visiting those I love, whether it will be in Copenhagen, Berlin, Los Angeles, DC, Seattle, London, Manchester, Boston…

It’s unfortunate to be separated from my friends, and to not be part of their daily lives, but that’s how things are these days. And although I’m in the midst of putting my foot in the concrete here in Tokyo (wish me luck on the moving-in process), I feel these relationships elsewhere—which somehow survive across state and country borders—will continue to be meaningful and important in the future.

My definition of friendship is evolving due to two factors: my virtual life and my love for traveling. They are complementary, fueling and sustaining one another. Thank you Facebook.

In the past, I’ve felt that nomadic friendships enhance my life, but weren’t meant to replace my traditional ones. Today, I crave—even need—these connections. I’m not certain how these particular relationships will evolve, but they will always have a special spot in my heart, but also leaves me with a bittersweet element. When saying the inevitable goodbyes, you hug a little tighter, inhale a bit deeper, and attempt to cement the feel of the person to your memory. You want time to stop, but you know you can’t, and you murmur “I’ll see you soon”.

On that note, Kimberly, my Norwegian friend from Mercer Island High School is visiting me in 3 weeks! I’ve visited her in San Francisco once in university and have reunited a couple of times in Norway. Can’t wait to see you!