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Pleasure Practices with Sami Schalk: Reconnect with friends

When intimacy holds up despite time and distance.
Photo of Sami (right) smiling with her longtime friend Sarah at one of Sami’s book tour stops.
Photo of Sami (right) smiling with her longtime friend Sarah at one of Sami’s book tour stops.

When intimacy holds up despite time and distance.

This is our newsletter-first column, Microtones. It runs on the site on Fridays, but you can get it in your inbox on Thursdays by signing up for our email newsletter.

I don’t want to jinx it because I know Wisconsin has seen its fair share of May snowstorms, but I think, maybe, spring is finally here? It’s truly impossible to know for sure, but overall, the days are longer, the temperatures are higher, and those of us who are extra COVID-conscious can finally begin outdoor socializing more easily again. Time to bust out your floral dresses, pastels, sandals, and sunglasses, babes! 

Personally, I’m counting down until the school year ends because that means my travel schedule also slows down. Traveling for my book tour this year has been exhausting in many ways—more plane rides than I’ve had in the last three previous years combined—but also nourishing in many others. In particular, on each stop of my book tour I’ve been able to spend time with friends I haven’t seen since before the pandemic began. So this month’s pleasure practice is reconnecting!

Getting the chance to reconnect with people I’ve had less frequent contact with in the last few years has been deeply pleasurable. There have been times during the ongoing pandemic when I’ve been unable to respond to or keep up with very many people socially. Although I know this is the case for many if not most of us, it hasn’t stopped me from at times feeling guilty about my lack of engagement with people I care about, but who are not a part of my daily/weekly life. It sometimes felt like I had a running friendship to-do list of all the people I wanted to check on, respond to, or offer words of support, condolence, or congratulations. 

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Over the last few months of travel, however, it has become clear to me that no one was begrudging of the messages I never replied to or the announcement post on social media I never commented on or anything else I was worried about. Instead, my friends were simply happy to see me, eager to catch up on each others’ lives, and curious about how we have grown and changed in the last three years.

There is something so satisfying to me about relationships that can pick up where we left off even if it’s been a long time. To me, this signals a rich intimacy balanced with respect for each others’ independent life paths. I feel very seen and appreciated by these kinds of friends, so it was a blessing to see so many of these people I’ve known for years (up to 17!) but who no longer live nearby, either because I moved or they did (or both). This kind of connection and intimacy is not, however, limited to long distance and old friends alone. Between my book tour trips, I’ve also been trying to intentionally reconnect with my local friends, some of whom I can only see every other month or so due to our busy schedules. These friends, too, supply me with rich intimacy and love that I am so grateful to have in my life. 

So this month, I encourage you to reconnect with a friend you haven’t seen or talked to in a while, someone whose presence you miss, whose intimacy and love you value. If it helps break the ice, tell them I told you to do it! Text them, set up a FaceTime catch up call, or schedule an IRL hangout in this beautiful warm weather we’ll have all month long (I’m manifesting!). Don’t worry about how long it’s been—just reach out and reconnect because badass bitches need other badass bitches to survive!

An ode to the best and worst of Madison summers.

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