A good friend of mine has just moved to the suburbs, actually worse than that, the ruburbs, and I am scared. Scared that I shall never see her again. Because this has happened before. A fun former coworker with whom I hung out a lot many years ago moved to the far northern suburbs, and the last time I saw her and her family, I didn’t even have my third child yet (he’s eleven now). For all I know, she could be living in a different country. We kept “wanting to get together,” but we never made the time commitment.

The odd thing is, however, that if a friend lives in a different country or another city, I tend to see that person more often. Perhaps because if he or she comes to town, I drop everything and make it work to see him or her. Point in case, a friend from Philadelphia was in town for a performance last week, and even though I really did not have the time to sneak out of the office to meet her for a cup of coffee, I did. Another fun former coworker, originally from Singapore, now lives in Hong Kong, and she’s coming back to visit in June, and will stay at our place. That’s the other thing about friends from other countries: There’s a chance they will stay with you, which means you really get to see them and really get to spend time together. Friends from the suburbs don’t stay overnight.

I do see friends in the city more often because indeed, not much transportation time is involved to meet for lunch or dinner. Today, however, I drove all the way to the northwest suburbs of Chicago to have lunch with a friend whom I hadn’t seen since last July. And it occurred to me that I have seen my friend from Shanghai more often in the interim – when we roomed together at a writers’ conference in October, and when I visited her in Shanghai in March. So there you go – it can be easier to set aside the time to see a friend from Shanghai than one from the suburbs.