One of the easiest, yet most satisfying ways I keep in touch with friends is with a phone call--sometimes several times a week, but at the very least half a dozen times a month. And this past week, I had an influx of delightful rings from my nearest and dearest. There was a heart-to-heart on why a friend's "combat boot-wearing Clark Kent" love interest was more interesting in sharing his chocolate chip cookie recipes instead of a glass of wine. While on the receiving end of a transcontinental call, I was encouraged to "lead with my heart and not my head" but not be so "CB" (read: Carrie Bradshaw) when it came to new men in my life. And it isn't unusual for me to save a few of these humorous voicemails ("Grandma!" "Cocoa Caliente!" "Grams, are you in your 'jams already?!"). The phone call is as direct a form of communication you can get without actually having to be in the same room with that person. Unlike other modern-ish correspondence like texting or instant messaging, a phone's most exceptional quality comes from being able to keep a conversation's score, so to speak.
No amount of emoticons can take the place of hearing a friend's in-the-moment vocal reactions, whether it's because of a lunch-break debate over outfit potentials for the evening (it's chilly, but I just shaved by legs, so skirt for dinner girlfriend?), or a two-hour dialogue about what each other's serious and silly goals--become fluent in Spanish, start an interior design company, hire another beautiful soap opera-worthy intern, etc. There's something undoubtedly heartening and genuine in hearing your friend's uncontrollable laughter after sharing some buffoonery of foreign, yet utterly amusing British slang.
Today, having a new job that keeps me out of the house a good 11 hours a day, five days a week, my social playtime became understandably limited, with 9-5 business hours and (gasp) weekends no longer applying to me. It also meant letting go of those occasional, but much-coveted happy hours at Barbarella.
In the end, rather than let a career force me to purge all social interaction, it's helped redefine it. Time is valuable for everyone these days, and I try to make every minute spent with a friend, count. Perhaps, in this way, it serves as a healthy reminder that when it comes to investing time in friendships--it should always be about quality not quantity, especially when you want to make that five-minute "ketchup" chat in between meetings, matter to you both.
Related: Listen More, Talk Less, Ask Questions