I started thinking about this a couple of Saturdays ago when my college roommate and another friend from college came to hang out for the day. Although we only live a couple of hours apart, our busy lives mean we rarely see each other, so it was nice to have a day to get together, just hang out, and pretend for a bit we're young again. These are friendships that are over 20 years old and will always be there. We may go months without talking to each other, or even e-mailing, but I know that if I needed either of them they'd be there, and when we do get together it doesn't matter how long it's been, it's still comfortable.
We spent this past Saturday night over a few drinks and munchies with another couple that moved away a few years ago, but were here visiting family for the Thanksgiving holiday. He and Rob were friends first, and when he was single he was at our house a lot, although that may have been more for the food than the friendship! When he started dating his wife, she fit right in, and fortunately she & I also got along well. So it's a couples friendship, where we mostly do things as two couples, but it's also a good enough friendship that the guys do things and the girls do things separately, although not so much anymore since they live 9 hours away.
I joined a knitting group a couple of years ago, and two of the women in that group are becoming more friends than acquaintances. So far, most of our interactions are centered around knitting activities, but that's what we all like to do, and it's nice to have someone to do it with. Still, I feel like they're definitely women that would be there if I needed them, and that I want to spend time with outside of the knitting group activities.
The older I get, the harder it seems to be to form new real friendships. We all have so many things going on in our lives that although I meet new people regularly, and may even see them frequently when participating in whatever type of activity I met them through, they are really just all acquaintances. To me, a friend is someone you know you can count on, even when it's not convenient for them, and for whom you would go out of your own way to help when needed. I think those people are few and far between in each of our lives, and that much more important when found.
My husband is my best friend, and for that I'm grateful. And I'm thankful for the friends I've found, and continue to find, in my life. This is one of those things where I think quality definitely trumps quantity.