Saying hi in a relatively unusual way

I bumped into Javi at the mall last Sunday. I came from the clinic to, well, have that freak bald spot checked, and I was looking for a new iPhone cable, because the ones Apple provided were apparently extremely brittle. He, on the other hand, was... well... I don't know, really.

"'Musta na?" he asked.

"How are you?" I asked back.

We both did this awkward hand grab - not a handshake, not a high five, but something - and then we walked in opposite directions, like we were before we bumped into each other.

That's nice, I thought, as I headed for the escalators. And then, later, I didn't really answer his question, right?

Nor did he. We just both said hi in a relatively unusual way - "how are you?" - and then left it unanswered.

I mean, I guess it's because we're busy. I was going to buy a cable - I ended up with one that feels considerably bulkier, but at least it's not gonna break apart after a year - and he, well, I still don't know what he was doing. There's this thing about moving on and not staying still, about it not being healthy for you. I don't wanna delve deep into that.

When someone I haven't seen for the longest time asks me that question, I rely on my fallback. "'Eto," I'd usually begin, before pausing, thinking of what exactly to say. That "exactly" would also be a fallback: I'd either talk about my job, or my blogging, but I usually just say that nothing really has changed.

"'Eto, ganito pa rin," I'd usually reply. "Ikaw? 'Musta na?"

What exactly do you say, though? You cannot give a blow-by-blow account of what happened since you last met, a comprehensive primer on all the things that happened to you, all the things that you gained, all the things that you lost, all the things that you still covet, all the things that led you to become who you are at this very moment - although, yes, that is the answer he's probably looking for.

I lost my job, sort of. I got a job, which is the same job. I worked at home for over a year. I got a new job, with my dad. Corporate job, marketing. Wanted to try new things. Met new people. Nursed heartbreak, moved on relatively successfully. Oh, and I am now in a relationship. Yeah, I myself did not see that coming.

That's just a potted version, because I myself don't want a blow-by-blow account of my life. I don't want to live through it again for completion's sake.

So you end up saying, "'eto, ganito pa rin. Wala namang nagbago, eh." That's what you believe, after all. Nothing really has changed.

"Parang walang nagbago, ah," MJ told me this morning.

I was having breakfast with Rainy at the FamilyMart near our office; she was off buying donuts. MJ apparently began working in the Ortigas area a couple of months back. He's a video editor now. His old job was in Cubao, which was ridiculous considering the distance.

And he's right: it's as if nothing changed. Well, except for his shorter hair - he can't wear it long now, because of the stereotypes it brings - and the freak bald spot on mine. He recognized me instantly, and I recognized him instantly. We talked about high school, got nostalgic. How I was, in a way, better in basketball than the rest of my class. How he didn't bother with who's cool and who isn't, but would not tolerate extreme levels of insanity. How he, in a way, taught me to drink alcohol.

I gave my stock answer, he probably gave his, and now I know all this, or remember all this. And all because, ultimately, nothing really changed. So how are you again?

And your responses...

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