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How Moving 200 Miles From My Best Friend Made Us ‘Unbiological Sisters’

“I hope you take some comfort in the fact that I hear you now,” I typed, hoping to soothe my best friend’s post-college frustrations and fears.  Those 12 simple words were transformative. It was in that moment that my best friend and I transcended friendship and became sisters for life… online, 200 miles apart from each other.

Despite our unbreakable sisterhood, our friendship began as a happy accident.  Two years prior to the online exchange that would forever change our lives, my best friend and I were complete strangers who had just received word that we had been matched as roommates for the upcoming school year.  As we eagerly discussed with our other roommates who would bring dishes and decorations to furnish our apartment, my future best friend and I bonded over our shared love of music, dogs, and law.

We were both distraught a few weeks later, when my future bestie announced that she had accepted a last-minute resident assistant position and would need to live elsewhere.  Still, she promised she would stay in touch and arranged for us to meet up once school started. Ever true to her word, two weeks later, my best friend invited my roommates and I to her new apartment, where she plied us with homemade pizza and cookies and Pinterest-quality hand-crafted decorations.  We shared the must-sees in our respective cities, enthusiastically showed each other more photos of our pets, and became fast friends.

However, despite the simple, 10-minute, on-foot commute between our apartments, the reality of maintaining our friendship was complicated.  Between my best friend’s RA programming, my Mock Trial practices and competitions, and our mutual dedication to our studies, carving out time to forge our friendship was difficult.  Although we were friendly with each other, my best friend and I only saw each other every few months. Still, we made the most of our limited time together — trying not to giggle at our failed attempts at ice skating, scarfing down mediocre pizza at the campus Italian joint, shopping our hearts out for my perfect graduation dress, and outfitting my graduation cap with a blinding amount of rhinestones.

When my best friend texted me the day before my graduation telling me that she had a surprise for me, my heart sank.  I stood inside her apartment holding a colorful box of “Legally Blonde”-inspired graduation goodies, profoundly grateful but attempting to fight back tears.  I was graduating and moving back home, but she had one year left of college. Would this be the end for us? I felt as though we hadn’t gotten enough time together, and I hadn’t fully appreciated our friendship.  We shared a hug that I never wanted to end, and I mentally resolved that our friendship wouldn’t end with it. But, I was terrified for our future. How could we possibly stay best friends from 100 miles away?

My fears were completely unfounded.  As my best friend started her senior year, we began talking online nearly every day, swapping complaints about her ridiculously grueling senior project and my equally ridiculous months-long unemployment stint.  We cheered each other on through the triumphs — her academic award, my month-long temp job — and cried through our challenges… without speaking a single word. When we finally met up after five months apart, it was as if nothing had changed between us.  We spent five hours lounging on the patio of our favorite restaurant, chatting about anything and everything and amusedly wondering how in the world management hadn’t kicked us out.

Despite my best friend’s and my infrequent in-person meetings, our friendship continued to flourish online.  We carried each other’s secrets behind the veil of Facebook Messenger, rushed to be the first to “like” each other’s photos, and continued to share our juiciest gossip and most exciting (and disappointing) life happenings nearly every day.  We may have physically been miles apart, but thanks to our reliance on social media, we had never been closer.

As I celebrated my best friend’s graduation by her side, however, I couldn’t quell my pervasive fear that our friendship would soon be fated to break.  As soon as the most important day of her life ended, she would be moving 200 miles away from me. Our already-limited time together would be even sparser, and strengthening our bond could prove to be the greatest challenge to our friendship, especially considering we would virtually never see each other in person.

But, when my friend began to fall on difficult times post-graduation, I refused to leave her side, even though we lived 200 miles away from each other.  The moment I typed, from halfway across the state, that I heard her, that her feelings were valid, her response floored me.

Thank you for being my sister.

It was then that I realized that our friendship — our sisterhood — transcended distance.  We may have been living 200 miles apart, but we had never been closer, thanks to the power of social media.  Social media bonded us, strengthened our friendship, and transformed us from best friends into sisters.

It’s been nearly a year since I’ve seen my best friend, my “unbiological sister,” in person, but the distance between us remains inconsequential.  We send each other care packages and cards with lengthy, heartfelt messages about our friendship. We message each other about our victories and our struggles, our hopes and our fears.  We eagerly anticipate the next time we will see each other in person, go on a slightly wild “bestie adventure,” and quite possibly, narrowly escape being kicked out of a restaurant again as we spend hours reminiscing about our lives.  We both know that physical distance is no match for our friendship. No matter how many miles come between us, my best friend and I will always be sisters.

Kelly Douglas

Kelly is an avid writer and mental health and disability advocate with a focus on personal growth. She is passionate about using her life experiences to help others. Her ultimate goal is to make a difference in the world -- no matter how small. When she is not writing or educating others about life with disability and mental illness, Kelly can be found listening to music and cuddling her cat.

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