Reflections on Long-Distance Friendship

There are all kinds of friends: coffee date friends, workout friends, funny gif war friends. Each has its place in a well-rounded life. But the best kind of friends are the ones you can go months without seeing only to pick up right where you left off; the ones who will have your back through anything; the ones who drop everything to show up at your door with ice cream and a listening ear when the situation calls for it. Although my dear friend Joanna Hawley (of Jojotastic fame) can’t easily make the trip from Seattle to bring me Ben & Jerry’s when I need it, she’s got those other things covered and then some. So when PayPal asked me to tell a story of a treasured friendship—in honor of the launch of PayPal digital greeting cards—I took a stroll down memory lane and delved into fond reminiscences of one of my most special relationships.

The funniest thing about my friendship with Joanna is that we’ve only been in each other’s presence three times, with two of those being hectic work events surrounded by other people. But the third occasion made a lasting impact on us both, coming as it did at tender times in both our lives. Joanna came to visit me shortly after I separated from my husband and moved to LA. I had barely started to settle into my new place when her own long term relationship ended, and we leaned on each other a lot in those days. Together we focused on what we knew would get us through: a shared love of creativity, exploration, and humor. We were just the distraction and support that the other needed.

If there’s anything I know I can count on from Joanna, it’s that she’ll join me in my tendency to find a work opportunity around every corner. It’s a double edged sword for us both. We’ll drive ourselves into the ground with various projects; but we do it because we genuinely love to explore and share what inspires us! Case in point? As soon as Joanna set foot in my little apartment, we poked our heads out the window to take stock of the flowers in bloom. Joanna had flown in from Philly, leaving the snow for the California springtime where the roses were on full display, and we’d both been waiting for her arrival to sneak into the garden with a pair of shears. We spent an entire day completing not one but two photo shoots that put those blossoms to good use. Now whenever I see sprays of garden roses, I cannot help but think back to those hedgerows we plundered in the name of honing our styling skills!

Another thing for which I can definitely rely on Joanna? We’ll go far afield for the promise of good shopping and great food! I was still new to LA when Joanna came to visit, but I had started to put down fragile roots and they were strengthened by the chance to show a guest around my new city. One of our most memorable stops was the Arts District, where we feasted on savory and sweet pies alike at Pie Hole. To this day I can remember Joanna’s patience and willingness to strike the perfect pose for my Instagram feed; and the photo I took of her forking into a slice of banana cream remains one of my favorite shots of all time! I can’t drive through that neighborhood now without thinking fondly of the first memories I created there—and the friend I created them with.

The visit wasn’t entirely without incident, however. A nutritionist had recently suggested to me that I improve my digestion by incorporating more beets into my diet, so I dragged Joanna to the farmers market where we picked up a giant bunch of them. I hit the kitchen and poured my full enthusiasm into a salad of raw beet greens, which we both promptly scarfed for lunch. Within an hour, the greens were…um…improving our digestion big time. We learned the hard way that raw beet greens are a potent laxative, and we spent the final day of Joanna’s visit taking turns in the tiny bathroom of my apartment. The jokes that resulted from our gastrointestinal turmoil are now inscribed in the annals of our friendship. Sometimes I’ll tweet or text Joanna a photo of beets when I buy them, just to make her laugh. I’m pretty sure she hasn’t eaten the veggie since that fateful March of 2013!

Even though we don’t live in the same place, the moments that Joanna and I shared that week cemented the foundation of a friendship that transcends geography. We made memories together and learned that a lot of the same qualities make us tick. Now, more than four years later, we still bond over the same interests, popping in with a text to say hello, a shoutout on Twitter, or a PayPal digital greeting card. In lieu of flowers, or a pie, or a bunch of oh-so-healthy beets (!), I can let Joanna know I’m thinking of her by dropping funds into her PayPal account with a just few taps on my phone. Cheeky themed cards add personality to the monetary gift of PayPal digital greeting cards. My fave? A motorcycle and sidecar that signifies what I’m sure she already knows, but that always bears repeating: I’m so grateful to have her along for the ride on this journey that is life!

Photos: Anne Sage. Disclosure: I partnered with PayPal to concept, style, shoot, write, edit, and share this post. All opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that enable me to bring you fresh inspiration daily!