When I woke up this morning, I really didn’t expect to get emotional over a few squiggly lines. But here I am, red-eyed and very much so feeling a certain type of way. Over the years, our relationships go through plenty of changes, and looking at them all laid out so simply is almost too much for my heart to handle.
Cartoonist Olivia de Recat‘s drawing entitled “Closeness Lines Over Time” struck a cord with me for a handful of reasons. The simplistic visualization beautifully captures the lifespan of common relationships—those with family, friends, therapists, pets, and first loves. In the course of our lives, some stay close, some drift apart, and some turn into straight-up scribbles. And because relationships can be incredibly fragile, I’m reminded to appreciate every single one of them.
Here’s how my most personal relationships sync with this graphic.
1. My best friends
The drawing hits on two important types of friendship: the best friends we’ve had since childhood and those we made in college. But for me, it’s more like my best friend since high school, the ones we joined forces with in college, and those who came into my life post-college. Whether we like to admit it or not, our longest friendships all have a strong start and naturally ebb and flow with time as life happens—especially when you no longer live in the same zip code. For me, though—thanks to texting and regular visits—my friends never drift too far. When we reunite, it’s like we were never apart—and that’s something I’m so grateful for.
2. My sibling
I have one sister, and de Recat’s doodle representing sibling relationships really nails it. As you and your sibling are growing up, figuring out who you are, things are a bit up and down. My younger sister and I have always been close, but I definitely needed my space at times and there was no shortage of fights along the way—many over borrowed clothes. As you mature, you learn to appreciate that having a sister is something special. We’re more inseparable as adults than we even were as kids and that closeness will last a lifetime.
3. My parents
Now, the lines representing your relationship with your parents really break my heart. My parents are my rock. They’ve always been there for me, making it their mission to provide everything I’ve needed in life. Even through my teenage years, when it seemed like they did everything in their power to embarrass me in front of my friends, and even when I moved out of the house to start a life of my own. I’ve always been really close with my parents, and as an adult, we’ve gotten even closer—and not just because of our meme-filled family texting group that pings my phone about 9,872,830 times a day. As an adult, I see my parents in a different light and finally understand why they did the things they did (like curfews and rules about dating before age 16). A child’s life only overlaps with a parent’s, which makes cherishing every moment all the more important.
I love my friends and family, but let me tell you about my dog. I’ve had my pup, Trixie, for nearly nine years. I got her while I was still in college, and we’ve been inseparable since the day I took her home. As a freelancer who works from home, I get to spend most of my time with her by my side. She stretches with me on the yoga mat during my midday break, rests her head on my laptop and looks up at me as I’m typing away, cuddles up with me at night as I watch Netflix, and slips under the covers when it’s time for bed. I can’t imagine life without her. But while our lives are long, our pets’ lives aren’t—and the shorter dog line is something I can’t even think about without crying. Your dog never leaves your side until they absolutely have to.
4. My partner-in-crime
When my fiancé and I first met nine years ago, we experienced an instant connection. I had never met anyone like him before—not to mention someone so much like myself. After a handful of dates and plenty of texting in between (on a flip phone!), I knew something was there. When he went to Nepal for three months for a medical internship—which seemed like forever as a 20-year-old college kid—everything was still so new. So, he left and we moved on with our lives. But I’ll never forget the the first time I heard from him once he returned. He was still at the airport and I was the first person he called. Even though we didn’t meet at the best time—as perfectly shown in the diagram—we both knew that initial connection was something to hold onto. After eight years of adventure, we’re getting married this summer.
I’ll never look at squiggly lines the same way, but I’m okay with that.
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