Caroline has been back in England now for about two weeks, making contact with people she knew years ago. I myself wrote recently about moving around from place to place, and the effect that had on keeping in touch with friends. It made me wonder about how we do make friends and then keep in touch.
Childhood friends, if you don't live nearby, for the most part seem to change as we all do and then lose touch. Does that happen if you don't move? Do you then change in similar ways? I've heard of people whose friends date back to the first day at school, but in my experience, moving means that we change in different directions. I've made friends, good friends, as an adult, but even when keeping in touch, they move off in different directions. Not all, it must be said. I do have friends dating back many years but often not the people I thought were "best friends". Then again there are others who barely keep in touch, but when you do meet up it's as though you had never been apart.
I knew as soon as I met one person that, in spite of quite an age gap, we would like each other and 15 years later we are still great friends. Now that we only occasionally see each other face to face, we chat online or make Skype calls every few days. What is that connection? Will we be able to keep that bond even after I move away from the area, as I will no doubt. She won't move, she never has - we are so very different in many ways and yet such good friends. Would we have made that connection if we had first met online?
And what is exercising my mind today is whether we can keep friends via the internet just as easily as if we were close by. Even more, can we make real friends over the internet? I know of at least one couple who have successfully developed a lasting relationship after they first met on a forum. But how? I've always believed in a sort of "chemistry" that occurs when you meet as it did when I met that colleague. Is there an equivalent chemistry that can be sensed online in a different way? Do we even have the same persona online as we do in real life?
I don't know the answers but I have found that, after a time, I do feel I have formed an idea of what people are like through chat, emails, blogs. Or am I being totally naive?