Twelve hours, not eleven

I knew something was up. Somehow, I knew the most important details, but I didn't feel it until it was all over. Then again, it's not unusual for someone to address everything and everyone being left behind before saying goodbye. It's the least you could do, after all, or else you'll be left with either sentimental pangs, or floating issues - or both - and it'll linger forever. Or maybe it's just me who's thinking that way.

Then again, Marcia didn't. I knew she was leaving for Canada. I knew her family's attempts to migrate halfway around the world was finally a success, after seven years, although it still surprised her. I knew she didn't want to go, and I knew she felt she didn't have any other choice. I knew she did her final catching up with her friends, that final get-together days before she took that flight to Toronto. And somehow, I didn't feel it coming.

For some reason, she chose not to make much out of it. I first time I mentioned it to her - we were chatting online, for I was at work - she somehow didn't want everyone else to know. Or at least that's what I remember. We didn't really talk much after that, but I saw her post one blog entry after another, reminiscing about the things she will miss once she finally leaves the Philippines and attempts to start over again. For some reason, it slowly made sense to me.

I wasn't particularly close to Marcia, although we did spend some time together. We, of course, took the same bus home from our classes, and whenever we had the chance we would, and we'd talk about so many things, unless we decided to sleep on the whole trip. (She often slept. I often woke her up when we approached Fernando's, the supermarket which has since closed.) Obviously I'm not alone in thinking she's one of the more outspoken members of the block, doing things with a slight activist slant, never one to back down. And yet she always the one who was concerned about other people - during our first year, when I felt the world was getting fucked up with my every attempt to connect, she took me aside and told me everything she thought. I should do this, I should do that. It'd usually annoy me, but during that instance, I didn't.

She did have her own group of friends. Initially she was, of course, with the party animals, somewhat connected by the fact that she, Ariane and Martin all lived in the same area. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I had the feeling she was set apart by the group for who she is - the fun-loving, perhaps slightly shallow people, against the one who'd speak out of things were amiss. I can't remember. It was four years back, after all. The only other thing I remember was her connections with Loui, Caresse and Tina, which came up for reasons I obviously wasn't able to track, when more important things happened. While it was a camaraderie that seemed to fit, something happened during thesis - and she found herself working solo. She told me it came down to a choice between her and Tina, and she thought she wasn't selected because of her outspoken tendencies. Again, correct me if I'm wrong.

I'm not exactly painting Marcia as a loner, but for some reason, she was. She wasn't afraid to strike out on her own, do things that she knew was right, and say things she felt had to be said. She snuck out of our Bulacan field trip to stop by her relatives, and nobody but a handful of us in journalism class had a clue that she was gone - she just showed up at the rendezvous and we all took more photographs as we went home. And yet she felt like someone who cared. It's quite a complicated explanation, really. But, at least for some, she was part of the ecosystem. You can't scrub her out of the whole picture.

For most of us in college, perhaps, she left without even a whisper.

I only realized she's arrived in Canada when I spotted her on YM today, and noticed that her status message said breakfast even if it's already nine in the evening. Of course, I decided to talk with her, and that first overseas chat predictably revolves around the cold summer temperatures and the time difference between Toronto - well, Brampton - and Manila. For some reason, I felt awkward asking her questions, about how she's adjusting and whether she'll get used to things in the long run. I should've known the answers to those - she's only been there for two days, she's still sleeping in her aunt's basement with the entire family, and she's still getting used to 20-degree summers. It's the usual questions people who didn't have to face that prospect - to be honest, my family's thinking of immigrating there, too - ask those who have. And yet it felt like I was talking to someone who I didn't really know, much more spent three crucial years with.

"At least medyo nasalo ka ng relatives mo, adjustment-wise," I said. "Pero kahit alam ko date ng alis mo, di ko man lang naramdaman."

"Okay pa naman," she replied, somehow derisively. "Carry lang."

"Will it sink in?" I pressed, thinking it'll get us somewhere.

"I think it is sinking in."

"Good, I guess."

While we worried about what we'll get ourselves into next, she snuck out without notice and started fresh. Perhaps it's our fault we didn't care that much, or perhaps it's just her way of doing things.

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