Sometimes life throws a wrench into your spokes and someone you love moves away.
Except it feels more like a chainsaw.
Distance can amplify even the smallest pain, so you have to put in a little extra work to keep things running smoothly.
But pout not! There are ways to stay close even though you physically can’t be — without putting a huge dent in your bank account.
1. Keep postcard stamps in your wallet.
Few things can replace the sanctity of actual mail. Stock up on postcard stamps, which cost a little less than regular, and whenever you go somewhere, try and find a card. Find the funniest, prettiest, or intentionally worst one, grab a pen, and send that little sucker on its way. You’ll forget you sent it, and days later you’ll get a happy reminder.
2. Snail mail something fun.
Did you know you can stamp and mail a coconut, beach ball, or brick? Or send a stinky fart? Brighten your friend’s day (and make their mailman hate them) with something unusual. (Just remember, some things, like sending booze, are restricted using USPS. If you’re not sure, start here.)
3. Hang your love notes.
If you’re getting more mail, you might be wondering what to do with all of it. Extend the mushy feeling you got when you opened it and keep things where you can see them.
It can be as simple as tying twine on two nails and using clothespins to secure your cards. (Attach them onto some string lights for an added hazy glow.) Keep the unused cards in a shoebox and swap them with the seasons for a rotating display.
4. Tend to them when they’re sick.
There’s nothing worse than feeling helpless when someone you love is miserable and can’t even get up to make food. Hunt for a local deli joint and send them some much-needed soup.
5. Stop messing up birthdays.
Saying “HBD” instead of an actual birthday message is like taking a giant dump on a Hallmark card and giving it to someone. Set an annual Google Calendar reminder with alerts a week ahead and send them a little something. Take advantage of flat-rate boxes, or to keep it personal, tell them you have a surprise and just wait till you see them next to give it to them.
If you’re not “into” birthdays, find other occasions to send something, even if it’s a jar of air from your part of the country or a leaf you’ve Mod Podged into a bookmark. Love doesn’t have to cost any of your body parts.
6. Don’t just plan a chat — plan an activity.
Skyping is god’s gift to long distance, but it can lose its luster in the long run. Make it feel even more special and schedule to watch a TV show or play a game you love. If you’re in a relationship, you can try something a little ~*zestier.*~
7. Tell them why you think they’re wonderful.
You know when you’re looking around and something reminds you of your recently departed? Tell them that. One of the deepest regrets of the dying is not keeping in touch with friends, a palliative nurse discovered. Bronnie Ware observed patterns of regret and compiled them on her blog (later publishing them as a book, The Top Five Regrets of the Dying.)
It sounds insanely simple, but if you don’t believe that it doesn’t happen enough, look at the outpouring when someone dies. Now compare it to how compelled you felt to tell the person those nice things when they were alive. Don’t save your words till after someone is gone — they can’t hear them.
8. Designate godfatherhood for your pets.
Dogfatherhood, that is. Even if it’s not for real, telling someone that they’re to take care of your beloved pet when you’re gone is just extending an invite to join your family. Send regular updates of their milestones for bonus fun.
9. Have to work when they’re visiting? Send them on a scavenger hunt.
Send them drop pins with things they can do throughout the day. It’s the most customizable fun you can have while sitting on your glutecakes, regardless of interest and transportation limitations.
If you’re in a city, you can include directions or leave them to fend for themselves. For example, you can send a photography lover to off-the-path locations, like beautiful graveyards or coastlines. If you have the car, make one using Post-Its at home with snack surprises so your guest isn’t hungry, or use riddles or jokes to direct them to the next note.