There is a blogger out there who’s started to post/showcase her many friends one at a time. I thought that is an interesting subject to explore. The attraction of the subject for me also comes from the fact that I have not had “friends” since I left the Philippines. You know real friends, the kind who knows your insides, knows exactly how your intestines bend and where. I have made a lot of friends through school—all levels I attended I made bestfriends. I thought I’d walk the memory lane down to my friends houses. Would you join me?
Code name: L. Vong. I met her in Grade I. She sat in the same row, she was in the front and I was three or four seats behind her. What made me remember her [the only thing I remember about her] was the fact that at 7 am she would enter the room with these popsicles [the twin kind], she would eat one right away, and keep the other in her desk[our desk had a compartment for all our things] for recess, which was at 9 am. I thought that was weird since the popsicle would have melted by then, you know Philippine heat and all. The funny thing is I never got around to see whether she ate the other one for recess or not. I reminded her of this later in our friendship but she had no recollection of it whatsoever.
She moved to another school after the first grade. I met up with her again in high school. We were in the same class, because of a mix up. I enrolled in Section 1, but ended up in Section 6 [both are the “good” sections]. The adviser of Section 6 wanted me to be in her class, but all my other friends from elementary school were in Section 1, where we all agreed to be. Anyway, the separation from my grade school homies proved fruitful as I got hooked up with Elvong and her grade school homies. We were in the same class for four years.
Nothing was exceptional with our friendship, we ran around the same circle, went to the same places, did the same things, laughed at the same jokes, and gossiped together, attended the same church, etc.
We roomed together in Manila for one semester. I think that was when we really bonded. I got to know her sisters more and I learned that she was way cooler than I expected or even knew. By the second semester we parted ways. But every free time from school we had, we got together. I was introduced to her new sets of friends. The remarkable thing about her is that the saying: BIRDS OF THE SAME FEATHER FLOCK TOGETHER does not apply. She made friends with everybody. She was seen with the good girls and also with the Lindsay Lohans and Paris Hiltons of our town and yet people admired her for accepting these women as her friends.
She was overly protective of people she loves and dedicated to her duties. When her bestfriend, another classmate, left for Germany, L. Vong assumed the best friend’s role as daughter and sister. I was dragged to the best friend’s house to visit and check their situtation. The parents were only too thankful that L. Vong was checking up on them, on how the crops are growing, on whether they have been spared of the seasonal fever and cough, those sort of things.
When she married a boy from our circle, I was only too happy. They were perfect together. Plus the boy had suffered enough, we thought. He waited and waited for years until she finally said yes. And I was one of the many who was godmother to her first born.
I remember she was the only one who really knew me that well. Knew me too much she taught, er showed me how I am. One day we were having a friendly poker game, she called me out for being way too cautious. I never realized that I was that way. You see mathematically speaking, my cards were way too good not to risk a high bet. Our bets were candies at that time. There was like a 10% chance that I would lose that hand, still I bet a measely 5 candies, if I remember correctly. I think that was the first time I heard someone tell me, LIVE A LITTLE. I remember taking a long pause and saw the whole situation, like an out of body experience (which could really be due to our alcohol conspumption), and I questioned myself why I didn’t take that risk, after all what was I going to lose? Candies? Candies that I was never going to eat anyway since I wasn’t into hard candies. But stubbornly, I did stand by my bet. You of course knew, I got heckled for being such a chicken.
Anyway, I remember her today because September is her birthday. It’s been 15 years since I last celebrated her birthday with her. I miss my friend.
(Author’s Note: This was written in September and has been sitting in my draft folder. I miss her this Holidays too.)