Many friendships are born from proximity. It’s simpler to hang with the neighborhood kids, whatever your neighborhood looks like at the moment: high school, university, the office. The problem is holding on to the friends you’ve made before each change of scenery. And because this isn’t F•R•I•E•N•D•S or How I Met Your Mother, seeing your old pals is probably a rare treat.
I’m lucky that some of my high school friends are navigating uni with me, yet I’m even luckier that things feel the same with those who aren’t. Well, more or less the same — since we’re not experiencing school side by side anymore, the life updates come from kwento or social media posts.
These updates, however, don’t come as often as you’d expect. Our group chat is revived via meme every now and then, but not a lot of us are serial chatters. Most of us are steeped in schoolwork a lot of the time, and I can only imagine how much less our schedules will align once we enter the working world. With that, how can I say things feel the same?
I don’t have a wise answer to that. They just do, maybe because catching up is more fun when there’s more to catch up on. The meet-ups, no matter how sparse, are neither boring nor awkward. No hard feelings about the lack of contact in the interim; we understand when life gets in the way, and mutually promise to find our way back when the busy spells end. Such is the beauty of the low-maintenance friendship.
That doesn’t mean I’m free from missing people, or that we’re only there for each other when stress lets up. I guess low-maintenance friends speak a love language beyond routine greetings. The how-are-you’s may fade into weeks, but our inboxes remain open for real talk. Screw the cordial openings — I’m going to ask for advice, listen to your rants, and be there when it matters the most. And you can be sure that if a boy down the other side of Katipunan breaks our girl’s heart, we’re raiding her room with ice cream.
Though constant communication does show concern, it isn’t the only means to do so. Perhaps it’s more important in earlier stages of friendship, in the process of getting to know another. So low-maintenance friendship doesn’t seem to be the kind you start from, but the kind that most, I think, move towards — especially as the daily grind kicks in. And by then, the bonds should be strong enough to handle a little space and time.