7/31/2008
Comes first leaves first

I was at the McDonald's branch near DLSU last night. I was waiting with my dad, since my sister was watching something that lasted well into her comfortable-enough-to-commute zone. It wasn't exactly a full restaurant like the many other times I've been there, but there were many people. There were many unfamiliar people.

It's not an alarming thing, really. People come and go - it's a given. The frosh, well, they always end up going at McDonald's, being the most familiar eating place for some people like me call initially naïve. Like us before, they move on to where it works better for them - the school canteens, the smaller restaurants in the vicinity, or perhaps the newly-raided stalls at Agno. And, like us before, we get replaced with the people who will eventually know better, and we get delegated to returning when we have to, not because we only know so much.

Nevertheless, it's still a weird feeling. Walking among strangers is a given - perhaps something I'm used to, now that I'm employed and working for myself, somehow - but if you've been in the same place for three years, you'll somehow half-squirm at the unfamiliarity you suddenly face. Four months ago we were in one of those tables, maybe discussing our thesis, or hiding the Sir Doy shirts. Now, in one side of the building, there's a group of freshmen playing around until one literally falls down.

Yvette passed by while I was sharing my chicken nuggets with The Manila Times. She knows me, but I don't know if she knows my name, but perhaps the familiarity (or ubiquity) of the past two years meant it's not an easy thing to scrub off. She said hi, and I waved back, and noticing my dad, she gestured with all the silence she could muster.

"Dad mo?" she mouthed.

I nodded. She then took her hand and did something with it - it's a gesture, how do you explain it? The things you think Rufa Mae Quinto and Bearwin Meily usually do. Or, if you watch Wowowee, you'll know it when you hear, "kamay sa baba." Nevertheless, I knew what she meant.

"Palagi naman nilang sinasabi yan, eh," I said.

"Totoo nga," she responded, as she sat on the table next to ours, dinner at hand.

I didn't really see a lot of people that night. I was left alone on the table at one point, merely listening to my iPod while actually reminiscing about the last two terms, thanks to the newspaper I was reading. I thought I saw Jana enter the restaurant, perhaps order something, although I never saw her hold a tray, or a plastic bag for that matter; I only saw the tall guy she was with. I went to the comfort room and saw all these people, and for a moment, I saw the people I knew. They're settling into their positions, perhaps taking on the positions we once held - geek, jock, diva, shy type, tattle tale, backstabber, you get the drill.

I was seated at one of the benches inside the South Gate. I didn't go in campus, as there's nothing to see, really - nothing, because it's almost eight in the evening; nothing, because I've nothing else left to see. Chichi passed by and waved at me, and then my sister came out. We walk to the car, my dad starts the engine, and we set out for home.

People move in and settle down. People move out and try to settle down. If there's anything life-changing to the past four weeks - the way I thrust myself head on in a whole new world, the way I try to find new inspirations, the way I try to filter who's genuine and who's happy messing you up - it's that, as it always has been, the world is about change. And I'm not saying I'll welcome it with open arms, but at least it makes the world a little bit more interesting to watch. Really, when you're stuck at work writing about actors reprising their roles, and programs getting axed while barely into their first season, you'll realize that some things will never stop changing - and some things will stay stagnant, just for you.

And, although the following day felt weird because of the beginnings I have somehow compelled myself to begin, it's nice seeing that the other end is still the same, for now.

And your responses...

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