1/12/2020
Six and a half years

I'm absolutely convinced that it hasn't been that long since I last met Icka.

I have this memory of us meeting at Megamall. This has to be a work day. I remember I had to sneak out of work to meet up. I remember that I already had lunch by then. I definitely remember that her mother was there. They were having lunch at Dulcinea, which means I was in the awkward position of not being hungry and yet not able to turn them down to eat. Well, maybe I did say no, but Icka's mom insisted that I have some of their churros.

"It's all right," I distinctly remember her saying. "We haven't touched that yet."

Or am I making all that up?

I can't be. This was in my previous day job, which means this happened between 2012 and 2016. I don't think this happened in my early months on the job. Should be later, probably in the middle of my stint there, so 2014.

But maybe I am making it up. Or, at the very least, I have my dates wrong. But as I'm stuck at the flat, weathering out the ashfall, I looked back at our Twitter history. It's entirely possible this Dulcinea encounter wasn't reflected on tweets, but I couldn't find any. The last time we met seemed to be six and a half years ago, in 2013, when we met at a Coffee Bean in Makati. Shalla and I were together for just a little over six months at that point, and I brought her along to meet arguably one of my closest friends from college.

In any case, yes, that really is a long time ago. It just doesn't feel that way because we talk on Twitter fairly regularly, but indeed, I haven't seen her physically for a while. She wasn't in the few block reunions some of our classmates managed to put together. She was invited to Jason's wedding, but she wasn't able to make it. But then, unlike me, she seemed to be all right with not being in one particular crowd or another.

We did meet today. With volcanic ash starting to hover above our heads - or, at least, Megamall's roof - we caught up about, well... we haven't met for six and a half years. We've talked a lot - well, we tweeted a lot, but you can't really squeeze in conversations in there. What do we talk about?

Blockmates.

Sort of. It's 2020. I graduated in 2008. She graduated a year later, I think. The numbers alone suggest a lot of distance. We don't really know much about what happened with the people we spent our college years with. Not that we have to, because that'd make us stalkers. But talk inevitably shifted from government duties to whoever's gotten married, and somehow I've had news on that front. Sars invited me to her wedding, to her long-time boyfriend. I wasn't able to make it.

And then, there was a sort of litany of who, as far as I know, have gotten married, or engaged. That led to a litany of who else I'm forgetting from our blockmates. And I was the guy who, during the first two terms of our college lives, sent our email reminders to everyone - a bid to both be helpful and be of value to them.

But time means we end up focusing on what's in front of us rather than what's behind us. You need to earn money, to make something for yourself, to, uh, remove the negativity in your life. I mean, you don't catch up with everybody. You catch up with the people you choose to catch up with, because they mean more to you, in one way or another - and even that gets spotty. You forget birthdays, you fail to send condolences, because you tend to miss the news, or skip the reminders, one way or another. And when you do reconnect, you end up doing this mental exercise of figuring out what's happened since to the two of you, and then, to all of you. Icka's sister is all grown up now, and is in college - a far cry from this three-year-old I met when we shot a school project at their house. I am unknowingly stocking up the fridge at the flat for an imminent disaster. Six and a half years since we last met; fourteen and a half years since we first met. That's a lot to deal with.

And when that fails, talk about Mandarin movies, old psychopath girlfriends, and how Heechul dating Momo is still something we cannot wrap our heads around.

And your responses...

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