23 October 2003

Where Friends Have Been

I received a phone call from my high school batchmate inviting me to a reunion party. I do not intend to go. Number one, the people who organized the event are the people whom I was not very comfortable being with during high school. Number two, I have nothing yet to brag about. Reunions are all about looking back, and I am not ready to go there yet. In fact I am going as far as I can from memories of my pre-teen years. But that's not the point.

Phone calls are not part of my daily habits. I am never really the one who likes calling people just to chat. I'd rather invite them out, or in my place so we could have a real sense of communion together. I'd like to see people and friends upfront. So when I receive phone calls, it's usually a big deal for me and there will always be somewhat an excitement as to finding out who it is and what it is for.

Some of the most surprising phone calls I have had are from old high school friends inviting me to a party--their debut, graduation and the likes. I feel warmth (and relief) being remembered.

These phone calls and reunions revive to me the many friends I used to have.

When I was in kindergarten and in my early elementary years, I had no problems making friends. It was in those times when every class would have a seating arrangement and whoever was seating beside me, or near me, instantly became my friend. We would talk and the next thing you know, we'd go out together at recess, lunchtime and playtime. How easy it was then to make friends. I still remember some of their names and how I wish I'd meet them again--April, Doreen, Emily, Christopher, Diane, Yvette, Melody, Rhea... suddenly I'm remembering faces and feelings that it pains me not to remember their names. It pains me not knowing where they live and not even knowing ways on how to get in touch with them.

When I transferred to an exclusive school in my fourth grade, the friendship game shifted. --Or that it became a game. I was lost. The campus was bigger, the rules were a bit harder to follow and adjust to, and the people were more elusive. It was in that school where the first lesson I learned was insecurity. It was then I got to wish, if only I look more like this, or if only I'm smarter than her... But like any normal kid, I adjusted well.

High school life is the best. I'm one of those who disagrees with that statement. College was the place where the system and environment was free and open enough for me to spread my wings. It had the tools that I was able to use to properly nurture myself. Most of all, I met marvelous people and found a family where the so-called "sense of belonging" was felt by every fiber of my body. There were many digressions in college and one of them was meeting with your highschool batchmates. Sometimes you meet with them while commuting. If you do not like who you're with, you're unlucky since you will be stuck with them for the next few minutes and you have no choice but to talk to them. But most of the time, it's a moment to see how things have been, how they have changed and most of all, how you have changed compared to them.

This time I trust maturity to get the better of us, and I find comfort in the thought that all of us will fall in our proper places in time. Meeting with them after four years--sure there will be some awkwardness, but in the end you become human again--there is a consensual thought that things have changed, and perhaps some things haven't, but then that's life--glad to see you, how are you?...

...friends we leave for other friends... In passing, this thought from David St. John gives me a tender sore. I have proven that in many ways, relationships (not just with friends and lovers, but even with work, religion and society) require exclusivity and I just hate that. I just hate that.

People change, behaviors change, why do we have to part? Why is it so hard to return, or meet at a common point?

Until now I am trying to remember the names of those people I felt so much comfort with and adoration in the public school where I studied. Where have they gone? Sure they are around and technology makes it so much easier for us to track each other down, but what I am in truth looking for is the actual warmth--that innocence of just sharing 15 minutes together during recess, laughing and playing--with no thought of who's prettier, richer and smarter--that moment when even a wide stretch of silence is comfortable.

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