Means I will always have a great time
anywhere is fine,
it’s the conversations anyway that
make it worthwhile.
Intellectual orgasms? Sure.
Not a second passes by…
let’s move on. Shall we?
Having them as friends,
meant I will have to be tougher than tough
but softer than soft.
Insults they hurl at me
every chance they get
is an inside joke we will never
tire from. I love each and every
single one of them.
The raft I have built
houses every one of us
30 … 31 to be exact.
I don’t see them much now,
but an hour or two,
once every few months;
is enough to know they think of me too.
I love my friends.
I am thankful.
8 years and counting…
I wonder who’d marry first?
It all started with what we will call, “Brigada Eskwela“, a Filipino term used to signal that school is about to start in a few weeks and so students will clean their schools.
Or was it where it all began, really?
For me, it began with my mother’s desire for me to enrol in a public science high school. Simple. All one has to do is pass a test. Okay. No big deal, right? I passed, saw my name and test result on one of the papers pinned outside the gate of the school along with hundreds of others and waited for the first day of class.
They were all so noisy, then.
We… were all so noisy then. I only knew one person in the class. A fellow grade school classmate I haven’t seen in over 4 years. We were cleaning every inch of the room; all 30 of us. The toilet, the board, every chair and table, wiped away with damp rags and the floor waxed. Noisily, we did our tasks. And as one can imagine, if one really knew me then, I burst.
“Saba! Di mo kabalo manglimpyo na hilom?”
(Quiet! Don’t you guys know how to clean in silence?)
For someone as hotheaded and with as loud a voice as mine, it’s actually no surprise. Funnily though, now that I think about it, they were actually scared! I was the shortest one in our bunch and yet I was the loudest (thankfully I am not the meanest and most sarcastic).
And that was how I got myself known in the hierarchy. I got along with all the boys, at first. But it would later turn out that all 30 of us had a lot of things in common aside from the fact that all of us were the top scorers among all who took the qualifying test. For us, though, teenagers and young as we were, this was not and never have been an issue. We simply answered, that’s all. Still, competition became second nature to us but we were all so amicable and sporty about it. Always helping one another reach the grade requirement to not get disqualified and fail. See, we were all required to not have grades below 85 for any subject. Looking back, I think my high school years are tougher than my college years. Ssshhh…. Well, anyway, this was exactly the kind of environment that suited me. Lax, yet full of learning, fun and tiny tidbits of silliness on the side. Nonchalantly competitive, that’s what I would describe me and my friends in high school.
It wasn’t hard to get along with any of us, especially in an environment as contained and as small as our campus population had then. 5 first year sections, 30 students each. 4 sections for the second years, 3 sections for the juniors and 1 section for the seniors. Our batch graduated 3 sections in total because some students got disqualified along the way – you do the math. In simple words, it’s easy to acquaint yourself with everybody. And it’s not like the campus is big, you’re bound to meet all of them, eventually! Me and my classmates, however, had other things in mind. Ceremonies would start without half of us, we’d be hiding inside our classroom, under our teacher’s desk, or even at the forest park just to miss flag raising ceremonies or important announcements at the quadrangle. I don’t think we even properly celebrated a Teacher’s Day without it starting with curse words from our teacher because the classroom is so dirty! One time, she even went as far as emptying a sack full of garbage in front of us just for spite! And yes, we had to clean it up before we could start our class on Geometry. High school was hell. Yes. But it was fun, full of lessons, and a hell I would gladly go back to if given the chance. It was the hell where I met my first true friends outside family, one where I finally had the courage to cry in front of strangers without being laughed at, one where I would get hurled with insults almost every single day but still smile in the end. It was a beautiful hell. Our school guard still knows me, after all this time. In fact, he knows almost everyone in our section. Cutting classes weren’t our specialty, but when it comes to going out of school to play computer? Yup. That’s us. We were a riot. I guess we still are. I miss my high school friends. Conversations, at least the ones that do count, happen over the phone or social media, nowadays. Some of us now have children. Some of us are getting off fine, and I am proud to say we are still intact. In my debut, for example, I was such a sucker for planning stuff I do not have interest in, so all I did was tell them to show up. One of them messaged me, “I can’t come…” and others followed suit. Reasons were valid, of course. We study in different cities now, and my birthday falls during the first week of class. I knew though, that those living in the city would come so I was fine with that. 5 out of 29 is great, right? More than one is many. And while I am very much enthusiastic and excited that my classmates from my college could come, my high school friends were the only ones I wanted to see, really. And on the day, 12 came! More than half of them even flew from their school’s locations! If I weren’t so proud then, I would have cried. I literally abandoned my post at the center of the stage and just sat among them during and after dinner. I miss them. Even now, when we see each other on the streets, I have no idea how much I do until I actually do see them! Our conversations would always bring a smile to my face. I have changed, I know it. But they knew me for what I was and they know me for I am now and still stuck. And that’s what I really find astonishing. Of all my high school friends, I study in the same college as three of my guy HS friends. Two of them, in our school publication, like me. But my relationship with them goes beyond intellectual conversations or witty comments in facebook. Even in relationships, they make me feel … safe and always keep me grounded. Some of my recent friends describe me as a real person. I mean, I am. But fantasy is in me, most of the time. And constant harsh, tough criticism and slaps of truth coupled with curses from them remind me of how stupid I may be at times.
Luke: Stop texting us what you’re doing every minute. We don’t need it. (On my constant GMs, before. Thanks to him, I no longer do it.)
Bethoveen: You know, you’re smarter than me. You’re just lazy. (I don’t know why he said this. Haha)
Jebsen: You’re both cowards. You know what you are, you just refuse to talk to about it. (On why I couldn’t let go of someone who messed me up.)
Me: Can’t I have … like… 5 months of stupidity over a guy?
Luke: No! That’s shit. Even for you. You are smarter than that!
Me: Fine. It’s hard though.
Jebsen: Do you want me to talk?
Me: Shut up.
Luke: You are an emotional piece of shit.
*laughter fills the air while we eat street food and people look at us for speaking in English but we laugh anyway*
I know a lot about my guy friends than most of our other girl classmates know about them. And they know a lot about me too. I think it is what keeps our friendship – constant sharing. Sure, we do not talk as often as we used to. But we share every single milestone or heartache we have.
One call away, the perfect song for us.
United we stand, divided we fall.
Through thick, thin, sickness, health, times of wittiness, intelligence, or folly .
I am grateful to have met them at such a time where I could fully comprehend friendship and value relationships.
Today, I met two of them again. And even if we only cross paths, once every year (reunions that not everyone attend to!), we know deep down in our hearts everyone is there with us.