The final descent

"Good morning, valued passengers. This is your first officer speaking. Thank you for flying Cebu Pacific flight 5J 563 bound for Mactan, Cebu. Right now we are flying at 35,000 feet, and we'll be making our final descent in a while."

I looked at my watch. It's almost a quarter to eight. I left Manila at ten past seven - just in time - and I wasn't due to arrive in Cebu until thirty minutes later. Did I miss something?

At the exact same time, the girl beside me looked at her watch. It's as if we rehearsed it or something.

She was on the window seat. I was in the middle. It's not the best seat on the plane: going to the lavatory is hard, and looking out of the window is harder. I mean, the person who has the window seat is probably thinking that the person beside them is looking at the view from inside the window.

Well, yes, I was kinda doing that. I know. Creepy. Kinda creepy. But it's seven in the morning, and I'm slightly asleep, and there's really nothing to see outside, because the sun is rising, and it's bright enough to overpower what little (literally) of Metro Manila you can see. So, by the Mona Lisa theory, you tend to look at the person beside you.

She's what Jill would call your stereotypical CLA girl. "She dresses well, doesn't look like she sweats despite how hot it can get inside the campus, she gets a weekendly VIP spot [in] Embassy (or whatever is the hottest club at the time, of course, I wouldn't know), she converses in straight English and she knows all the important people in partying." I like that blog entry. It's the truth I never articulated properly. But I digress.

She wasn't that cute, but you know how CLA girls would somehow manage to wear particular things that would make them look cute? Or is it just me? A slightly tight-fitting gray top. A long, dark scarf. A pair of slim-fit jeans. ("Well, yes, I was kinda doing that." Possibly invalid now.) Glittered nail polish. A single bracelet on her right arm, which is actually a hair loop, whatever you call it, or something. Her hair, by the way, is wavy and brown. And she's wearing these huge aviator sunglasses, if that is what they're called.

Also, it's the tail-end of June. Why is she flying to Cebu? And packing light? During the onset of the rainy season? She's going on holiday. Somehow she's going on holiday. She's going on holiday now. She's got earphones on and nobody's going to stop her.

And then she brings out her National Library card.

It's actually a card now. Plastic and all. When I got one for myself - this was when Karla and I trooped there one afternoon to do homework rather than have Jason bring us to the middle of nowhere - it was a piece of paper, and it cost fifty bucks, and it felt like it's not worth it. So CLA girl - let's call her Elaine, because she looks like an Elaine - has one? Color me surprised.

And then she brings out a thick bunch of paper. Photocopies. School handouts. Corporation law.

CBE girls tend to party more anyway. Their organizations tend to throw all these parties in all these clubs, after all. The mindset must be along the lines of, we die doing accounting, so we bleeping deserve this! (Side note: the CBE is now formed by two colleges - the College of Business and the School of Economics. I don't know who holds the "we party harder" mantle.) My observation still holds water.

But still. Corporation law. She has a pen and she's underlining things and annotating things and writing in the margins. Asterisk, circle, 3, 4, 5, 1, 2. Why am I thinking such things?

Thirty minutes later, the plane did make its final descent. Bring your seats straight up, stow your tables, and fasten your seatbelts. She puts her readings back in her Longchamp bag - I observed far too much - and starts looking out the window. You see nothing but water. You can tell because it's sparkling outside. She's looking out of the window eagerly, stretching her neck, ogling a bit, if you could call it that, and not taking photographs.

I tapped her arm, because one of her handouts fell on the floor. She picked it up without a word.

Maybe she's not going on vacation. Maybe, I thought, maybe she's going home.

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