Today I learned that someone died yesterday whom I'd known for almost 16 years. We weren't close friends. She ran and later owned the little convenience store up the street from me. There were many years when I probably dropped by to talk with her at least five days a week. We'd lost touch over the last year. I'd stopped spending money I didn't have, and she began succumbing to her health problems (of which I only became aware in the last few months.) I'm not in mourning, our friendship wasn't close enough for that. While for me this certainly generates feelings of loss, and thoughts about life and mortality, this isn't a post about those issues.
Time passes quickly, and I have no habits regarding my friends; no good habits, at least. Keeping in touch with friends (new and old) is one of my many shortcomings. I'm not particularly attached to the past. With the vagaries—or shoddiness—of memory, often my friends and acquaintances are the only remaining link to that past.
What I'm interested in knowing is what makes friendships work? Not the mechanics of having shared interests, geography, etc.—those are relatively low obstacles. I desire a better understanding on how good friendships are nurtured and maintained. If the reader wishes, I welcome your feedback. (Although I'm truly hoping the contemporary answer isn't Facebook; if so, someone had better make one hell of a case for it.) I have ample evidence that I'm not good at friend mechanics. Indeed, I may not be good at being a friend. Maybe I keep too much of my private life on lockdown. I try keeping off social media unless I have something useful (or funny) to say. The depressing truth is that I think I already may have seen for the last time most of the friends from my lifetime. It seems mathematically likely. Conversely, I have friends I've never met, nor am likely to meet. It is apparent that the friendship formula simultaneously comprises and exists separate from those two extremes.
Whatever the equation is, I wish I understood it better. Having a galaxy (or even a constellation) of friends is nice, but not if they're all light-years away. Admittedly though, that distance may be my own perceptual error.