There are some people who saunter quietly into your life. They enter gracefully, make themselves comfortable, and fill you with the kind of warmth a merrily-boiling kettle at the hearth gives.
Monica is not one of those people. She breaks and enters with a sledgehammer, leaves her messy foot prints all over the place, is shrill and bossy and loud and indignant and cross and cheerful all at the same time.
Ten years ago, she was this tiny, flat-chested college student who looked like she was ten years old and whined and complained that all she wanted was FOR ONCE to be treated like a sex object.
Two days ago, she was packing her life in two big balikbayan boxes and about to leave for good to live in the United States with her greatest love Ian. “Have you ever tried it?” she asked us, “have you ever tried packing your life in a box, deciding what goes with you and what stays behind?”
Here is my answer: I haven’t, Mon. But if the time comes that I would have to, I am sure I would bring with me –
- That long, long bus trip to Ilocos Norte in 1999, when we missed our stop because we were too busy talking and you stood on the seat and begged the irate conductor and driver to take us back.
- Those two nights in Galera when we ran out of money, sold alcohol on the beach in our bikinis (with self-confidence and without a liquor license), proceeded to lose the money we earned, and slept in the house of a bangkero who was the boyfriend of a halo-halo vendor we chatted with.
- The shopping expeditions we had in 168 and the Ukay-ukay hole-in-the-walls, all in the name of looking fabulous for dirt-cheap prices.
- The one million conversations on the College boys of our lives – 30% of whom turned out to be gay in the span of a decade, and 50% of whom we’d rather deny under the clear and appraising light of sobriety and (ahem) adulthood.
- The bar exams of 2005, when you were the bar buddy everyone else could only hope for, inflicting physical pain on my person during times when I felt like slacking off.
- That moment in the car when you told me that you and Ian had gotten married civilly and I cried because I was so happy for you,. It felt that one chapter of our lives had officially come to a close, and we were moving forward and telling the world that this time we meant business. Strangely, there was no fear. Only joy and anticipation. And security in the cohesion of time-tested friendships.
I would take with me, Monica, let freight charges be damned, all the moments generated in the past ten years spent laughing together, being bitches together, wringing each other’s necks for wrong life-choices, making fun of each other’s College boys, swapping clothes (sometimes in the middle of the day), stealing each other’s books, looking out for each other, looking forward to the future, looking good ALWAYS. (hehe).
But if you can’t take all these with you, by all means, don’t. Travel light. Travel free. Carry with you only the certainty that even as we are all moving forward and coasting along with a world that churns and changes by the day, if you look back, the things that matter will be exactly as you have left them.
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October 10 is the day Monica left for the United States to live there for five years. However, October 10 is also the birthday of the person from whom I have discovered that pandesal is best eaten shared. Happy birthday, be…🙂