Absent friends

How many childhood friends are you still in touch with? I’m no longer in touch with anyone I knew before the age of about 16. Is this strange? My wife still has a few friends from school, but when I go back to Exeter to visit family, family are the only ones I have to visit. Anyone else who used to live there has moved on. Admittedly, there probably isn’t anyone I knew at school who I’d want to stay in touch with (I joined friendsreunited out of curiosity more than anything else). Maybe my recent geographical instability is to blame – in the past six years I’ve lived in four different countries, and in the seven years before that I changed address seven times (they’ll never catch me, ha ha).
I thought of this as I spoke to someone at lunch yesterday. We had both started work this year at the same organisation, which sets up lots of training and social events for newcomers. We hit it off well and plan to have lunch more often. It it normal to reach your mid-thirties and still be making new friends (or at least acquaintances) all the time? I guess I figured when I was younger that I’d establish a group of friends and then keep them throughout my life, whereas in fact my friends are more like my book collection – a core group of classics I’ll keep no matter what, but others coming and going as circumstances and moods change.
Living in Brussels, this is a fairly common experience, as many people only come here for a short period before going “home”. So when Brussels is your home, you sometimes feel a bit wary of committing to a relationship for fear that they’ll be off again soon. I try not to let this stop me. Many people end up staying longer that expected, and even if they don’t you can still get something out of knowing them.
Will I still be meeting new people and making new friends when I’m old and grey? Hopefully yes, although I’d like to think that I’d have kept a lot of the old ones too. Watch this space…