When it comes to acronyms, I’ve got my life on lock. I’ve got my BF Orie, who is actually my husband now but old habits die hard. I’ve got my MIL, who is my mother-in-love and my second mom. I’ve got my BFF Jess, who is my best friend forever and my actual better half. And then there’s my other BFF – my Best Faraway Friend, Els.
In this digital age of Tinder and texting, it is becoming increasingly common for people to ‘meet’ one another over the Internet. Oftentimes these friendships never leave the safety of the computer screen, but every now and then you hit on something that’s too good not to cling to. (Little known fact – I actually met Jessica online, something she threatened to reveal at my wedding during her maid of honor speech though I talked her down. )
Actual footage of Jessica “I Don’t Need No Man” Francois on my wedding day.
This is the case with my friend Els, of Gin Sips & Red Lips fame. She and I met on a collaborative writing site and have been basically up each other’s butts ever since. I spent last November traipsing around England with her on a whim, since I had just moved near Boston, Brexit had collapsed the English pound, and damn were flights cheap.
But it’s not always stuffing Big Macs into your face outside of Windsor Palace; international friendships have their ups and downs too, and they provide you with some weird, unexpected skills and advantages. And this is a segue to a list.
1. You Always Know Exactly What Time It Is In Random-Ass Timezones
If you ever need to know the time in London, England, I got you. Seriously – I just need to glance at any clock near me to fire it out, since I am so conditioned to checking the time and doing some hasty addition (+6 hours, if you were curious) before sending Els a text. I can do this for Perth, Australia, too, since I’ve got a friend there, and Orlando, though that’s less impressive since it’s literally a one-hour difference.
2. You Master the Art of Pausing Media
One of the many mutual things that Els and I are both obsessed with is the Kingsman universe, so when the new Kingsman movie was coming out we had no choice but to rewatch the first one. And we obviously wanted to watch it together, which means we resorted to our tried-and-true method: queuing it up and then carefully, precisely, hitting ‘PLAY’ at the exact same time. If anyone has to pee at any point in the movie, it’s another careful synchronization to pause, and eventually you get really, really good at it.
3. You Download Garbage Apps Like Whatsapp
Sometimes your fancy international pals don’t have basic human civilities like iMessage and you wind up having to install a bunch of third-party chat clients onto your phone. Because it’s not like you can call them – you don’t have international data, and who has time for Skype anymore. Snapchat is a fair alternative.
4. You Overshare to a Dangerous Degree
The anonymity of the Internet is a beautiful, terrible thing, especially when it comes to your friendships. There’s something so freeing about typing words that you would never actually say to someone’s face. It’s because of this freedom that I can never run for president; I have said far too many foul, damning things about Harry Styles to ever hope of winning the Christian vote.
5. You Learn a Bunch of Weird Slang You Probably Shouldn’t Know
I have an excessive, borderline-obsessive knowledge of British slang now, thanks mostly to J.K. Rowling but helped along greatly by my English Internet friends. For example, I can tell you that I can’t be arsed to watch the new GBBO since it’s rubbish without Mel and Sue. I also pride myself in being able to understand most chavvy accents, but that’s half-because I’m disgustingly into it.
I blame Matthew Vaughn.
6. You Always Have Someone to Talk To, Even at 3 A.M.
Thanks to those pesky timezones, more often than not you and your Best Faraway Friend won’t have the same sleeping patterns. This is aggravating when it’s eleven p.m. and you’re a little drunk and you wanna call her to talk shit about the new season of AHS, but nice when you wake up in the morning to three texts about dogs she saw on the tube and 2 snapchats of what she’s having for lunch.
It’s also nice when it’s the middle of the night and your seven-month-old infant still won’t sleep through the night, and you wish you had someone to talk to. That’s when you whip out your phone and reach out to your Best Faraway Friend, who is so excited to hear from you in the morning that it almost makes up for the fact that sleep deprivation is making you hallucinate black spots in the edges of your vision.