Oh the chemistry

"You could use some old familiar faces."

With that, I found myself waiting impatiently at the shuttle terminal for another text message. It was the afternoon after the lunch out, and things have gone quite differently than anticipated. I found myself alone on the sixth floor, and consequently on the long escalators, expecting to leave an hour earlier because I technically had the afternoon off. Instead, I decided to forego with saving my supposed lunch money and went to Makati.

The lunch out went smoothly, although for the first part I found myself tight-lipped and walking slower than expected. I even had three fingers in each of my back pockets just to make the task easier. I was quiet at the waiting counter, quiet at the table, and quiet at the chewing process, until I started fiddling with the chopsticks and found an opening. I guess it's the apple-spiked tea, which elicited something close to a did you just order that? look from Kris. I guess it's the running joke with Neobie's dessert, and how her turtle cake - or, as I called it, eight brownies with walnuts - became a test of willpower. I guess it's Glenn's friend Matt, who dropped by and volunteered to become the "comedy bar," and how my artsy tendencies came out with a discussion on a screenplay he's writing. That felt like college.

I sometimes pinch myself in the back whenever I regress to another mood swing. You're no longer in college, I say to myself. You can no longer afford to worry about friends. Perhaps it's me being raised with the mindset that work is a serious thing, where (almost) everything lies in the balance, and as the cliché goes, one false move and everything goes down.

Finally meeting with Ariane, Jackie and RC at one of the many Starbucks branches in Makati was somewhat a sigh of relief, though. Finally, a sense of familiarity, as if the four people who've been writing with you - that remains to be seen, ten weeks on - aren't as familiar as Marian Rivera. Sure, it's more of the same contained conversations that make me feel more of an onlooker than a participant, but I know some things that I probably wouldn't have if things went by differently.

"Inimbita ko siya kasi parang palagi na lang siyang depressed," Ariane explained. As if on cue, everybody turns to me, and after chewing the last bit of friend siomai, I started explaining the same explanations I've made to my parents, my relatives, and anybody else who's going through an online conversation with me. But that time was different. It didn't matter if I was talking a bit louder than usual, and a bit more breathless, as if I wasn't like that already. Simply put, familiarity.

"Alam mo, maghanap ka na ng ibang trabaho," Ariane said.

I had to explain myself again. The six-month probationary period, the sense of stability, the way the résumé will look, the this-isn't-college thoughts - all refuted, especially the last one. "School is a preparation for work," she continued. "Kung ganyan lang rin naman, hindi ka mag-go-grow." Sounds radical, sure, but the sincerity was there. I actually considered her advice.

Getting to this state obviously isn't an easy task. By comparison, I'm (still) only having growth pangs at work, still unaware as to when to do things that would've otherwise worked already. I've been in college for three years, and through sometimes tedious amounts of compelled collaboration, we've made a bond which meant we knew each other more than anybody else. Maybe it's impatience, maybe it's inaptitude, maybe it's just that damned work environment, but perhaps something should've happened already, don't you think? I probably deserve more than being left behind at the bookstore even when I don't really have to feel bad about it. I deserve more than asking Neobie that terrible question: "am I being obnoxious?"

It's Saturday night, and while the rest enjoy within the curfew, I'm still in front of the computer, acting the socially-inept fool that I am. As if I really had a choice, since I'm supposedly friendly and all - why would I be in Makati in the first place? - but it happens that Ella is in one half of Cyprus, and after a slightly mushy revelation at work ("I now know who my real friends are" plus a hug) we've been chatting like we've hung out when she was still in Manila, which obviously hasn't happened.

"Well, there are people we call acquaintances," she said. "Seriously! I don't call someone a friend unless I trust them. Minsan may tao lang na 'kilala' lang natin by name pero we don't consider them as friends."

Unknowingly, silence on my end.

"Hoy, nagsentimyento ka na diyan!" she typed in, all caps.

"I get you, I get you," I responded. "Hindi ko naman minamasama eh! Napaisip lang ako sa line mo."

"You have me," she quipped. By then, all those sentimental feelings flushed towards the water pipes at Cyprus.

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