A decade in the making

Last weekend, I got to spend three days with one of my oldest and dearest friends. Cathy lives in Sydney, Australia and we’ve been friends for almost 25 years.

We started out as pen friends back in the day. Does anyone still remember what FB’s (“friendship books”) are?  People sent little booklets – ‘Friendship Books”- around where you put your address, you age and your interests and when you received such a booklet and there was someone that you liked, you could write them a letter and become pen friends.

Cathy and I initially bonded over our mutual love for New Kids on the Block (no shame! Blockheads represent! :)), but it turned out to be so much more than that. She’s been in my life since we were teenagers, we’ve been through high and lows, happiness and heartaches, and it’s just been so amazing that we’ve kept up all these years.  I don’t think it can be taken for granted that our friendship survived this long, especially because it was all based on letter writing for such a long time.

We were lucky enough to have had the opportunity to meet each other IRL once before, when she and her husband traveled to the US and we met up in Los Angeles for a long weekend (including a trip – my first! – to Disneyland). The best part: it didn’t feel awkward at all, because we already “knew” each other. But that was 11 years ago.

We spent a couple of very special days together, then they continued their trip, we went up north to Sacramento, not knowing when we would be able to see each other again.

This might not seem like such a big deal today as we – especially us bloggers – make so many connections online these days and it’s almost common now to meet up with someone that you met over the Internet, but back in the day, it was rare to be friends with someone who lived so far away and who you hadn’t met in person. Letter-writing was a real effort and it takes two committed people to make this work for so long, but we stuck it out and became and have been best friends ever since.

We still kept writing after our meet-up, but not as much as we used to. J and I got married, Cathy and Greg had two lovely girls. Life got busy. But despite some periods of time where we didn’t hear from each other that much, I always knew that Cathy was there.

So, then fast forward a few years to 2014 when Cathy started talking about making another trek over here and when she started saving for the trip and planning it, scratching it, re-doing the itinerary, but always with the goal in mind to meet up somewhere and spend some quality time together. I told her, if she makes it over to the US again, I’ll come and meet her anywhere. So, we basically had been talking about seeing each other again for the last two years (and you can imagine how hyped up we were getting).


On Saturday morning, I boarded a plane to meet her + her family in Vegas for a long weekend. And when I arrived at the hotel that we were staying at and saw her walking towards me in the lobby, I felt giddy, yes, but it was instantly comfortable as if we had just seen each other a week ago. It’s amazing how that works, right?


It’s hard to put in words what this weekend meant to me. It’s not like Australia and the US are neighboring countries (and neither were Germany and Australia back in the day). With everything and everybody so connected these days, it does feel a whole lot closer (it’s not like we have to wait weeks for a letter to be delivered), but it’s still not like we can just hang out anytime we want, so the three days that we got together were extremely special.


We chatted NONSTOP. And when I say nonstop, I mean nonstop. This, of course, is a good sign, because if you can talk to each other like that, it means that you don’t really have to do much else. Yes, we walked the Strip and saw a bit of the casinos, had dinner at a buffet one night and lunch at Wahlburgers (*squeal*) and enjoyed the night view from the Paris, Paris Eiffel Tower, but the rest of the time we were perfectly fine hanging out at the pool (or the hotel room) and chatting the hours away. And it was still not enough time.







When I caught the taxi to the airport on Monday evening, I couldn’t help but feel like there was so much left to say.

I think I said that before: face time with close friends is so very special. You just talk “differently” with each other. You dig deep, get to things that you don’t talk about when you communicate via Whatsapp, text or email in between the demands of daily life.

The good news is we might see each other again in the not too distant future. I won’t say anymore, because let’s not jinx it, but FINGERS CROSSED. I miss her already.

Do you have any good friends that live really far away?

  1. This is so amazing! I love the fact that we can connect with people all over the world thanks to technology, but like you said nothing beats that face to face interaction. I have a friend from college who’s moved over to Europe and keeps moving to different countries. I love it because I get to visit him and see new countries as well! Hope you get to see your friend very soon :)

    1. I know, technology has made staying connected so much easier (I don’t know if I could have moved so far away from my family if it wasn’t for the technology), but face-to-face time is the best. Planning any trips to Europe?

  2. This is just an incredible story! Love it. <3

  3. This is the best news. I am so glad you two got reconnected in real life, and in Vegas of all places! That is SO AWESOME! I’ve never been to Vegas. I’ve got an Aussie friend. Aren’t they the best?! :)

    1. Yes, Aussie friends are the best ;) You should come to Vegas sometime. I’ll meet you there ;)

  4. Omg what a great recap of our time together! You are and always have been such a talented writer 😘 it truly was a great long weekend and it has felt so strnge being here the rest of the week without you 😢 we all miss you! 😍 thank YOU for taking the time out to come see me (us), it truly was a special few days which Ill treasure dearly always and I promise it wont be our last time either 😘 miss you and sending you lots of love until the next time I can give you a real hug 😘 xo

  5. I love it! It’s so wonderful that you two have been able to maintain such a close friendship after so many years and so many miles apart. Sounds like you’re kindred spirits :-)

    We had a French exchange student when I was 13 and we became the best of friends. After she moved back to France we kept in touch for awhile but then after awhile we both stopped. I wish I had kept up with the letter writing!

    So glad you had such a wonderful meetup. <3

    1. Thank you… it truly is a special connection we share :)

      Maybe you should try and get in touch with that French exchange student!

  6. What an amazing story, and what an amazing friendship. I have a few friends that even last year I was talking to every day, and now barely talk to, but who I just know are there–I never have to question it. None of them live hella far away (not like Sydney!) but now I think that the world is so weird–we can be so close yet disconnected, and also so far, yet so connected.

    1. So very true. It really always takes two people for that special connection :)

  7. Aww, I’m so happy to hear you had a good time and it didn’t feel awkward at all, to see Cathy after such long time. Amazing story!

    1. Thank you. It was magical!

  8. Aw, I love that you two met by being pen pals! I never really had a pen pal growing up but I wish I had as it would be have been a cool way to communicate. I love friendships where you can just pick up where you left off and you talk non-stop. I’ve been blessed with some of those kind of friendships through blogging. I don’t have any friends that live as far away as your friend does, but some of my closest friends are a plane ride away – the further away is Amber as she’s in Northern BC so it takes 2 plane rides to get to her.

    How exciting that you might get to see her again somewhat soon. I hope that means you are going to Australia?? I studied abroad there and it is such a beautiful place to visit!

    1. I definitely plan on going to Australia sometime (hopefully in the not too distant future), but she might be coming back here before I can make it happen… we’ll see ;)

      Letter writing definitely is a special form of communication and I am so glad I had that experience with her.

  9. No friends as far away as Australia, but sometimes any distance more than an hour or two feels just as far. While we keep in touch via FB message & text, you’re right, face to face is always better. You get the nitty gritty details of a story that don’t come out otherwise. And that’s the best part, always. So glad you two got to reconnect again, and even more impressive is that this friendship started long before Internet friends were a thing! Letter writing takes time!

    1. Letter writing DOES take time, but back then, it was the only way, so I didn’t really spend much time thinking about it… of course, nowadays it’s so much easier with all the technology at our fingertips.

  10. I remember Friendship Books. I used to have 30 pen pals all around the globe. I just loved to write and receive long letters from my foreign as well as German friends. I am still in contact with some of them but mostly via Facebook. On the one hand it makes everything so much easier but on the other hand it is less personal than real letters. When I was 16 I used to write with a lady in her 70s from Ontario, which was so much fun…
    I am glad that you got to meet your friend after such a long time and I´ll keep my fingers crossed that you`ll get to see each other again soon wether in the US or in Australia.

    Meanwhile I hope you enjoy your time with your parents! :-)

    Best wishes from Cologne!
    Caitscha :-)

  11. Oh, this is so much fun! I’ve had a penpal since childhood – a girl I met while on vacation with my family – but we haven’t kept in very good touch since she’s had kids. This makes me want to reach out!

Comments are closed.