The Unexpected App That Can Help Your Long-Distance Friendships in a Sweet Way

The Unexpected App That Can Help Your Long-Distance Friendships in a Sweet Way
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Of all the apps on my phone, Apple’s Weather is one of my favourites.

From Rome to Phoenix, Arizona, the app is home to an ever-changing list of places where my close friends are currently living or visiting. Each morning, as I mentally and physically prepare for the day ahead, I check the weather in Sydney – where I currently live – then take a moment to check in on my friends around the world. 

Watching New York City’s weather throughout the year, I take note of the April showers that supposedly bring May flowers. I see sweltering stretches of summer, followed by that crisp first day of fall. To my American friends, I send screenshots of Sydney’s weather forecast with the temperature toggled from Celsius to Fahrenheit, then try to justify my winter complaints, explaining how cold it gets inside my draughty terrace house without the warmth and accompanying rattle of my Manhattan apartment’s steam heating. 

Talking about the weather gets a bad rap. Long considered as small talk only to be had when riding the elevator with a coworker, or with an Uber driver after you’ve asked if they’ve “had a busy night so far”, weather chat is generally looked down on. However, at a time when “how are you?” can elicit feelings that are often too complex to put into a text, the weather has swiftly become one of my favourite conversation-starters with long-distance friends.

“I just saw the snow forecast. What perfect weather for your cosy weekend away!”

“I can’t believe how hot it is in Paris right now. How’s the trip going?”

“It’s been raining non-stop in Sydney, too. Have you been watching anything good?”

long-distance friends, weather
Chats about the weather are great, actually. Getty

There’s a level of intimacy that comes alongside a weather forecast. The outlook for each day impacts everything we do, from what clothes we put on in the morning, to our commute, to the meals we crave, and how we spend our weekends. A rainy Sydney night spent making lentil soup and watching back-to-back episodes of Everything I Know About Love is immensely different to a surprisingly balmy evening in London, spontaneously catching up with a friend to share a thrown-together salad and bottle of wine. 

Beyond the tiny insights the weather forecast can provide, it can also send a warning sign. Through flooding, heat waves, bushfires, and more, the influence the weather has on our lives and wellbeing feels greater right now than ever.

A couple of weeks ago, I called a friend in the US who had moved to a small town in Montana since we last caught up. Messages back and forth trying to arrange an appropriate time for the call revealed that she was on “mountain time”, which, after a quick Google, I realised wasn’t simply an Americanism but was, in fact, an official time zone. Days after our call, with the name of her small town on my mind and in my phone, it quickly caught my eye when reading a news story on the recent flooding around Yellowstone National Park. I texted to check in, relieved to hear that her home hadn’t been affected and that her vegetable patch was still flourishing. If I hadn’t seen that weather warning, or been keeping an eye out for her town, we wouldn’t have spoken that week at all. 

When it comes to long-distance friendship, communication will always be key. When it’s impossible to meet for a quick coffee, or even find a spare half an hour for a phone call between time zones, the weather forecast provides priceless insight into how a friend’s day, week, or month is about to unfold.

Gyan Yankovich is Sydney-based writer and editor. You can find her on Instagram and Twitter. 

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