Maintaining hometown friendships in college

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By Greg Caceres

On the other end of spring break, wishes for extended rest abound. The nine days of time away that were seemingly so far off have passed us by and left us waiting for the next moment to catch our breath.

Amidst this flash of time there’s any number of things going on, from working the long shift and preparing a resume, to running the family’s errands and preparing emotionally for the return to campus.

But perhaps most important among these tasks is keeping up those relationships left in the hometown. To maintain the truth of ‘home’ in hometown is perhaps the greatest goal set before us in our time away from school. But how to do it?

Every stereotypical, perfect spring break at home has a night on the town with the best of friends from high school, but again the question “how?” appears. It’s got to be more than a ‘Boys Are Back In Town’ montage. So what does it truly look like to have a meaningful reunion?

Unions are not easily cut off. They are the one thing our society readily makes vows for, and thus assign an otherwise unlikely weight. That word, union, carries a particular thought of permanence with it, in marriage and in politics alike.

Unfortunately, friendships from home are not so simple a union once college begins. They are in a natural state of decay, and the distance and time between the united parties makes indifference easy. But input enough energy, and it becomes akin even to the permanence of marriage.

It’s an energy involving intention and conversation never before needed in one’s hometown. But the time and distance now demand it: an investment of serious consideration before speaking, and even before planning meet-ups, is required.

This investment takes some very specific transactions: time taken to drive aimlessly but with purpose, questions and topics that dig deeper so that the cruise time can be filled with value, the willingness to share and give answers to those same questions. These — and of course the funds needed for gas money, meals, gifts and train tickets for a city day trip or two — should all be invested with the understanding that they will yield great profit.

I can’t keep these friends of mine by exchanging Vines and referencing old jokes, however much I may enjoy that and however comfortable that may be. They just can’t. Over break, my question of choice, not out of habit but from a place of sincerity, was, “how do you want to grow or change lately?”

It makes a difference; more than just passing small talk phrases back and forth, the question-for-a-cause involves difficult conversation directed at a person worth asking, worth investing in.

But that will continue to be difficult. It will be near impossible for some relationships. So long as small talk persists, so will small relationships. Superficial relationships depend on the fear to go deeper.

Commitment phobia is more common than ever these days. Valuable relationships are under attack and dropping off day by day, not by some mysterious force outside human power, but by the hands that deny each other firm grasps and the eyes that fail to meet each other straight on. We long for value in our relationships, but in those places where relation was once the most important, we have betrayed intentionality and brushed off our investments.

I know I have. And yes, it’s scary to have to come up with things to say and do together, to be out in the open and willing to fail at relating. But the prospect of one day not being connected to the friends I love far outweighs fear of awkwardness.

So let us set out to be real and forthcoming in these more pressing days of distance, that we may not leave home empty-handed but can finish these periods of rest trusting that each return trip will be worthwhile and beneficial. Let them be the fullest image of a reunion.

Greg is a freshman in DGS. 

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