Maintaining old friendships without Facebook is hard.

I moved out of my hometown 6 years ago for my first job. I did a shitty job of staying in touch with my old friends, outside of the occasional facebook update about “look at all the cool things I’m doing in my new city”. I deleted my Facebook recently and realized I really have to work to maintain my friendships. I text my friends more just to ask how they’re doing. I send them well wishes on the holidays. But I don’t know when their birthdays are, Facebook is still great about that.

I’d go back to my hometown every year for Christmas and sometimes Thanksgiving, but usually I would just spend time with my parents. I never tried to make an effort to see my old friends. None of them tried to see me either, but to be fair they also didn’t know I was back in town.

I love my parents, but spending a week or more straight with them can get a little tiresome. 2 years ago I was so bored that I started reaching out to my old friends who I knew still lived in the same area. One of them is a friend I’d known since we were both 5 - our parents met at a kids event at the YMCA. The other was my best friend from high school. Both of which I’d lost touch with after I moved away.

Travis, my friend from 5 years old, is now a police offer. We met up at a local Mexican restaurant for lunch and caught up on life. He shared stories from his job, many of them a mixture of exciting and frightening to me. He casually told me about how he was in a foot chase for a fleeing suspect the other week. I asked him if police really have ticket quotas.

I shared stories of my life working for a tech startup in Austin. Our careers couldn’t be more different, but our shared history enabled us to reconnect as late-20-something adults and swap stories. After we finished eating I didn’t want to leave, so I asked if I could buy him a beer.

I want to say I’ve bought a police officer a beer

We called the waitress over and ordered 2 modelos, just as an excuse to sit around more and keep talking.

As kids we were in the same church youth group. One summer we went on a mission trip to Juarez Mexico to help a local church there build a new worship center for their congregation. This was before Juarez was (publicly at least) known as a place Americans really shouldn’t visit. In high school he was on the wrestling team, and I got to watch as he had to cut weight right before his meets. He did anything short of starving himself to make sure he was in the right weight class.

I mostly sat at home, played video games, and talked to other kids on the internet.

Eventually our time was up, and we parted ways with a hug. I remember thinking to myself how cool it was to reconnect with old friends, and I resolved to do the same thing the next day. After all, I was only in town for a few more days and wouldn’t have this opportunity again until next year.

I texted my best-friend-from-high school, Jason, to see if he wanted to grab lunch the next day. He suggested a local ramen place, and I agreed.

Our meet-up went much the same as mine did the day before. We caught each other up on life, dating (we both had girlfriends), vacations and trips we’ve been on. It was like no time had passed at all. We just immediately jumped back into being best friends.

Lunch was great, and again time passed way too fast. I asked him the same question:

Want to grab a beer?

He said yes. We left the ramen place and went to a bar down the block with an insanely large beer selection.

We hung out for another hour talking. Again I couldn’t help thinking how amazing it was to reconnect with this person. Life goes by so fast, and before you know it you’ve lost touch with people who used to be your best friends.

That was 2 years ago. Last year for Christmas I didn’t see anyone. I wish I had made the effort, but I didn’t.

This year is different. I’m writing this on the day after Christmas. I met Jason for lunch 2 days ago. I’m meeting a different friend in about an hour for a late lunch and drinks. Tomorrow I drive back to Austin, so I’ve fit in all the reconnecting I possibly could in my holiday trip this year.

I’ve resolved myself to do the same thing next year. Reconnect with at least one person I saw the previous year, and one person I haven’t seen in many years. I’m fortunate that I still know people in my hometown that still want to hang out with me. I imagine that won’t be the case forever.

But I’m going to cherish it for now.

Reconnecting in person is so much better than creeping their Facebook profile.