Friendships are a rich, life-giving, healing, magic-perpetuating substance of the gods. For a lot of us, they’re the peanut butter that holds together our PB&J during rough times, and the extra sprinkles on top of our honey lavender ice cream when we’re having a good day (because we get to share it with someone!). Friendships challenge us. They expand our horizons. They make sunsets and picnics and hiking adventures even more worthwhile. And, for me, as a mid-twenty-something currently exploring the realm of seasonal work, the new friendships I am building are somehow being put on fast forward because of the short amount of time I get with these new people before we all move onto our next adventure.
Fast forward isn’t a bad thing. Thinking back to the VHS tapes I would watch religiously as a five-year-old, I used fast forward to skip to the best Disney songs in my favorite films. It let me skip the annoying and scary bits (I hated Scar’s song in The Lion King and the scary Ursula scenes in The Little Mermaid). Friendships on fast forward are pretty similar. You skip past a lot of the “fluff” to get straight to the good stuff, because there really isn’t time to waste. You only have a short work season to bond and hang out with your coworkers and new acquaintances, so the “getting-to-know-you” part is greatly condensed. Otherwise, you waste time dilly-dallying and feeling awkward when you could be getting to the heart of things, like drinking good red wine around campfires and talking about your favorite country songs!
What’s particularly amazing about the type of seasonal work I’ve been doing is that it tends to associate me with like-minded, adventure-seeking individuals. We all like to be outside. We all appreciate an epic sunrise, sunset, a good workout, a kick-ass spot to camp or day hike. We aren’t afraid of sore muscles or cold nights in a thin tent. We’ve generally got a gung-ho, go-get-’em attitude about life. So we say yes to adventures as they come up, and these are exactly what I’ve found rapidly eliminate any barriers that would slow the friendship-forming process. It’s hard not to have quality life conversations with someone when you’ve been hiking on the trail (or watching sunset on a beach, or driving the backroads of Washington) with them for a good few hours. Words and stories and opinions and dreams tend to come out, just because, why not? If you end up not liking the person, it’s just a seasonal job, so you don’t necessarily have to see them again (sad way of looking at it, but true). Or, if things work out and you totally vibe with your new pal, you all of a sudden have developed a deep bond with this person you just met, and because of the lifestyles you both lead, you have an adventure buddy that you will more than likely cross paths with in the future. Probably in some epic scenario, like sky-diving or cage-diving or a multi-day trek across the Himalayas.
It’s a different type of friendship. It’s not the type of friend you had in grade school that you have sleepovers with every night and grow up with. It’s more a friend that you link up with later down the road. You only get to share snippets of their life. You might be apart, and grow and develop and experience new things on your own path and on your own terms, but when you come together again, it’s the richest feeling. You’re able to share your separate experiences while simultaneously building new ones together. And this can go on forever. An endless weave on a big cozy friendship quilt. The ebb and flow of togetherness just leads to a deeper connection.
I love this, and I feel so amazingly blessed to have done what I’ve done. I owe it to so many people for encouraging and supporting me. It’s been hard emotionally and mentally, sure, traveling around and working in new places all the time. I’ve been ripping off bits of my heart and leaving them all over the place. I’ve left it with my first taste of red wine and the wild, untouched coastlines of South Africa and Australia. I’ve left it with my favorite little coffee shop tucked away on some back neighborhood street in Cape Town and the first acai bowl I ate in Maui. I’ve left it with the horse I rode beneath the towering mountain ranges of New Zealand, and the first humpback whale that I ever heard breathe, and the boat I was on when I saw my first orca breach. But I’m learning slowly that although you can donate bits of your heart to experiences and places that you won’t necessarily have or see again, people are different. You don’t really leave your heart with the people you meet, and live with, and work with. You loan it to them. You loan it to your friendship, and like anything on loan, it usually has a way of finding it’s way back to you. People aren’t static. They live and breathe and move and change and grow but they’re there, and you can call them up, and you can talk to them and hear their voice talk back. It’s like the gift that keeps on giving when you loan someone a bit of your heart (just by being their friend, awww).
I’m wealthier than I’ve ever been because of this life I lead. Not monetarily. That’s not what I’m focusing on right now. I’ve built a network of human connection that I couldn’t be more grateful for. Each year I hope to continue developing and reconnecting with these people. Technology makes it easier, too, for sure. But that being said, it’s stressful and a little bit of a time-eater to spend your days connecting virtually. So I save that FB message or Whatsapp text for the important things, the quick check-ins throughout the season, but I try to spend most of my time in the here and now. I’m definitely not perfect at that. But I want to sew my quilt with the good stuff, the strong colorful thread that is these friendships on fast forward.