Ain’t it good to know that you’ve got a friend?

“The best friends are old friends.” So said the caption on a Facebook photo from a mini-high school reunion I went to a couple of weeks ago in Rhode Island.

My classmates are reunioneers. Aside from the traditional decade parties, there are yearly get-togethers on the anniversary of commencement, June 10, and pop-up reunions whenever a distant classmate comes to town. The event I attended came together because Mariette had driven in from Nebraska, Lu was home from Florida and Jane had arrived from Arizona.

Some of my best high school pals didn’t make it, but no matter. It was a noisy, happy group, and I felt a kinship even with those I barely knew in school. Years later, all that shared history counts.

The school years might be as good as it gets when it comes to making friends. Research suggests that it’s harder to forge new connections as you age. I Googled “trouble making friends when older,” expecting articles about friendships over 50. Instead I found links geared toward thirtysomethings, floundering after the chummy college years.

A supportive social circle is key to health and happiness. According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, “Friendship decreases blood pressure and stress, reduces the risk of depression and increases longevity, in large part because someone is watching out for us.”

Of course, there are friends and there are friends.

Not counting the online world, where we may connect with hundreds of people in a new, 21st century type of friendship, the typical social circle—kith and kin—is 100 to 200 people, says U.K. researcher Robin Dunbar. He pegs 150 as the number of relationships our brains are wired to manage.

Of those 150, about 15 emerge as the most important individuals in our circles. Drilling down even further, a handful of people are the very closest—friends of the heart, those with whom you feel completely accepted and can share any intimacy. Dunbar’s research suggests that “you need between three and five of them for optimal well-being,” says a Time magazine report.

It’s not a static circle. Friends are constantly coming and going in our lives. And when someone in that BFF category reenters your world, it’s cause for rejoicing.

Doris and I became best buds 30 years ago when she bought the log cabin down the lane from me in Dingmans Ferry. We just clicked. We were both single and we started hanging out. We had many adventures together, shared many meals, went through boyfriends and breakups, and earned the nickname “the Snoop Sisters” from an antiques dealer whose shop we frequented.

In time, Doris moved away and embarked on a career as a house flipper. She ultimately wound up in Florida, where my husband and I visited her a few years back.

This year she began thinking about buying a second home. And amazingly, she ended up with what used to be my cottage in Dingmans, which by a twist of fate had just come on the market.

Life will be a lot more fun with my friend back where she belongs.

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