Where do your friends come from?
School is an obvious starting place, although, as I noted previously, I’m no longer in contact with anyone I knew back then (unless university counts as “school”). People I know at work are friendly, but probably fall more into the category of “acquaintances”,(or well-wishers, in that they wish me no specific harm…) although I’m still friendly with people from previous jobs. In Italy it’s apparently quite unusual to socialise with colleagues, whereas in the UK going for a pint after (sometimes during) work with your workmates is the norm. Then there are a smaller number of people we’ve met through a shared environment (neighbours from our street, parents using the same creche or school).
Recently I’ve been making friends and acquaintances via blogs, which is a whole different kettle of fish. I’ve met some wonderful people this way (you know who you are), but there’s always a nagging doubt about what kind of impression you can get from just reading someone’s writing, rather than being able to look them in the eye, hear their tone of voice, read their body language. On the other hand, maybe this is a purer form of communication – you can just focus on the words they’ve chosen to use, without getting distracted by the visual clutter? Either way, as I said to an online “well-wisher” recently, it would feel strange and a little sad if I thought that I would never get to meet these people in the flesh at some point.
One final thought: I often make friends with women. After a while we get introduced to our respective spouses, and from that point on it’s somehow assumed that we’ll pair off along gender lines. That is, that the women will be friends with each other, while the husbands will hang out together (to drink beer and talk about football and cars, presumably). This in spite of the fact that I very obviously get on better with the female half of the couple. Is this to avoid suspicion and jealousy, or do they just believe that I’m bound to prefer the company of another man?