I belong to two families. One I was born into and the other I found and pieced together in college. My friends and I depend on each other for pretty much everything from validation and support to someone to go out with on a Friday night. I approach my last year of college with a combination of excitement and trepidation. Though I’m ready to go off onto the next adventure, I’ve tried to forget that someday soon my friends and I will go our separate ways and won’t live two buildings away from each other anymore.
Now that I look towards grad school and my future, I’ve begun to realize that in a year’s time I will live at least a thousand miles away from here. If I learned one thing this summer, however, with everyone going their separate ways for internships and international adventures, it’s that strong bonds like ours prove unbreakable. No matter where I end up, I won’t be alone.
In high school I had two best friends: Charles (who I met at 13) and Karlye. These two got me through my ridiculous teenage drama and some of the worst days I’ve ever known. That’s why I felt endlessly grateful when Karlye and I both decided to go to the University of Florida. I may have been heading out on my own for the first time, but I could lean on my best friend.
Saying goodbye to Charles felt heartbreaking. He came over my house to help my dad and I pack the car as I left to school for the first time. As we drove away, I saw him running after the car and yelling something. Rolling down the window, I heard him loudly singing the chorus to Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On.” My dad laughed and called us weirdos while I sat there, tearing up as we headed towards the highway and my future.
As silly as it was, Charles’ serenade reminded me that I didn’t need to worry about losing him. Our separation became more bittersweet than anything. To this day, I stop what I’m doing and text him whenever I hear that song.
So I managed to maintain my friendship with Charles despite the 125 miles between us. You’d think I would be fine heading into this summer when two out of three of my best girlfriends (and queens of my life), Karlye and Sonata, said they’d be gone for most of it.
To be clear, I am fine. After spending summer without two-thirds of the squad, I realized this will become reality this time next year after we graduate and move away from Gainesville. It feels both natural and devastating at the same time in a way I could never anticipate.
I am, however, amazed at the level of dedication my friends have to our relationships. Every day Karlye blows up my phone with Snapchats of her Italian adventures (which never fail to make me burn with envy). Sonata and I started trans-national Netflix nights. We might live in different time zones, but that doesn’t stop us from sending each other ridiculous commentary. It’s not quite like having them here, but knowing that my girls are determined to keep us all together even when we’re apart uplifts me.
There comes a time in everyone’s life when they need to leave behind the things they grew up with. These lovely ladies (and Charles) are the lights of my life. I would feel absolutely lost without them. This summer forced me to realize I’ll never really be without them. People who love you will stick around if they should. And in the end, this might just be the most comforting lesson college ever offered me. If you’re important to someone, they will make a point to stay in your life—whether there’s a long stretch of highway or an ocean between you.