Coming Full Circle
I didn’t make it to my high school’s silver jubilee celebration two weeks ago, even if was involved in the preparations. It would’ve been a momentous event, for I haven’t seen any of my batch-mates ever since we graduated in 1988. I saw one classmate, for a semester, when we ended up in the same college. But we weren’t in the same class so when the new year started and I didn’t see him again, I didn’t think much of it.
The next classmate I saw was one of my few friends in high school. It happened in 1998. We talked for a while, sitting in one of the bar stools of TGIF in Robinsons Malate. That time, I was with my then-boyfriend. When this classmate started talking about how he missed his girlfriend–his fiance–he said, correcting himself, who was working in the States, my boyfriend’s eyebrow rose to the rafters of the restaurant. From that point, conversation became a bit awkward, but in the end we managed to exchange numbers.
But I never heard from him again. For some reason, I didn’t see any reason to contact him, either. That meeting only increased my ambivalence towards my whole high school life. My friends know how I feel towards that part of my life. How alienated and isolated I felt, because I was such a socially inept boy that time. I only took refuge in academics and even that proved daunting, because I was just a mediocre student who excelled a bit in writing and in the arts.
However, so much has time had passed; we’re all grown-ups now and everything that happened in the past belongs there. Water under the bridge. Memories to either be cherished or forgotten.
A few years ago, while living in Cambodia, I got reconnected to a batch-mate based in Dubai because we had a common friend in Facebook. G and I were not only classmates, we also took the same shuttle service to school so we had a lot to talk about. Unfortunately, because she’s in Dubai, she didn’t make it to the reunion either. I owe this renewed connection with my high school batch-mates to her.
Last Friday, I got the chance to meet some of them. The organizing committee of the reunion had a post-event meeting and I promised to be there. Then another batch-mate offered to host the meeting at a restaurant so the group grew to around 15. Another classmate who didn’t make it to the reunion also showed up as well.
There was a lot of reminiscing over dinner: stories of laughter and embarrassment, of friendships that lasted or withered with the years, of impressions that were either proven true and false, and so on. I felt overwhelmed by feelings that through dinner I appeared dumbstruck and quiet, just staring at them as they gaily talked about parenting, careers, and the quest for love.
When dinner was over, there was a mutual feeling of not wanting to part right away so we transferred to a bar for some post-prandial drinks and conversation. I’ve stopped drinking regularly in late 2008 and my last drink was with my post-grad friends a year ago but I felt I needed to have a drink with them. I could only manage one drink, however, because I had an errand to do the next morning. But when I left them, my heart was brimming with… I don’t know… just a lot of positively fuzzy feelings… feelings that still inhabit the words I write now…
The feelings probably come from a sense of accomplishment, of having ticked off some item on my bucket list… overcoming my fear… coming to terms with my ambivalence… coming full circle.