It’s fascinating to watch people come and go; you discover who your true friends are. We learn to appreciate people when they’re present, and accept it when they’re gone. In a society that has grown so competitive, I, too try to race with continual change and it is something I always look out for.  In the midst of the everyday hustle and bustle,  it warms me to know that I do have constants; it gives me some peace in this fast-paced world.

Last Saturday was Lans’ 18th birthday, and no, it wasn’t some grand debut party — we’re not really into those. It was a simple pool party with drinks and deep-fried finger foods, which takes me far back to what parties were like when I was much younger. I did almost the same thing for my 18th, where I only invited my closest friends for a buffet and a photoshoot in BGC.

That morning, I was finishing one of my articles for When In Manila while waiting for a ride to Katipunan. I made a stop at Regis for some milk tea, and Common Room, so I could buy a gift for Lans. I, then asked to be dropped off at BPP (which makes me a little sad seeing it closed) because that’s where the three of us (Lans, Samme, and I) agreed to meet up. If we talk, you know that my phone’s gotten real thicc because its battery had expanded and leaked—no way I’m touching that. So there I was, with my brother’s phone.  Of course, I forgot to add their contact numbers, so I sat outside Shakeys for WiFi. Fortunately, I got a call from Lans via Messenger the moment I connected. Thank God. I was already mapping out a new day plan with the assumption that they left. I mean, it was 12:30pm; the plan was 11am.

A drooly Milo (Lans’ corgi) was the first to greet me in the car. I missed seeing their faces on a daily basis. Lans was always at retreat, Samme was always at Entrep, and I was always printing. It was nice, the road trip being pretty smooth and all. Free-flowing traffic on a Saturday? A gem.

The afternoon was spent out by the pool, of course. Milo ran around the lot while we helped ourselves to some sliders, fries, and sparkling grape juice. Kail and Pat arrived a few hours later; we talked mostly about our passions and career paths. I’m glad Kail and Pat have it all figured out. Funny how I’m shifting into a I.T. entrepreneurship course when all I really wanted was to run a group of restaurants I will have designed myself (I can dream).

Around 4pm, Kail, Andre (Lans’ brother), and I took a swim in the pool while the rest went out for a walk. My fear of deep water still stands, but I’m working on that. “How can you not know how to swim?” “You’ve never gone to the beach as a child?” I get these a lot. Other than my genuine interest to learn, the inability to swim almost feels like a disability, so I do my best to catch up.

We accompanied Pat outside the gate so he could take a smoke. In his pursuit of quitting, he downloaded this app that gives him a stage per stage guide. He’s smoking less everyday, and I’m proud of him for that.

The best part of the day was the spontaneous walk around the resort.  The road had steep inclines winding into what seemed like black nothingness (literally!), so we took these photos:


I’m gone.

We later decided to chill at the view deck, which was overlooking a forest and part of the metropolis. We took in the scene of the stars and city lights, wondering. The rusty swings, the candid photos, the silly dancing on the street — memories like these remind me that I’m not a machine, and that I feel.

Before the city was a dark forest — a contrast between stillness and motion. The night was young and breezy; it was a soothing kind of silence.

(Frustratingly, I didn’t get to take good photos because the phone’s low camera quality didn’t allow for that.)

Fireworks sparkled from afar — a celebration.  There are many things we address too perfunctorily, and so we fail to cherish. You’ll be surprised by how many people don’t even acknowledge birthdays, let alone their own. I mean, hey, I’m not Chinese yet my family prepares a feast every Chinese New Year. I still join in on Easter festivities or Halloween trick-or-treats, even if I’m like, 18 and not religious. There should always be a reason to celebrate, as Applebee’s encourages.

After dinner, we gathered on the bed and took our first shots. It was calming to see them smile and laugh the wee hours of the morning away. Everyone looked so happy, and that made me happy.

Fun fact: We had Emperador with root beer for a chaser. It was horrible; I vomited painlessly.

Here’s how Lans did:

Pat didn’t even need the root beer… aWFUL

The idea of a big barkada never appealed to me. I preferred going out with people in twos, threes, or fours. I get to know people better that way. Sometimes I find it taxing to maintain so many different, and even conflicting wavelengths all at the same time.

When you think about it, we don’t make friends—it just happens. You cross paths at some point and you stick. Talk about your day, what you’ve been thinking about, or anything under the sun, really. There are times where we don’t even talk at all, but we’re there.

In everything it’s always been quality over quantity for me. Forget I don’t have a coliseum of friends, what matters is that I have real ones. It tires me when I have to exert so much conversational effort to maintain passable impressions. Everything that flows in and out should be more or less natural. I mean, why have friends when it stresses you out just to keep them? Moral obligations? Social norms? Sad.

Anyway, I didn’t realize how emotionally static I’ve been until that Saturday. They don’t know it, but they give me so much joy just by being there. I feel an unflustered kind of euphoria, and I value these moments even more now that we’re cities apart.

I love watching them grow; it’s an amazing process — growing with them. Never mind if we haven’t seen each other in months, it always feels the same when we’re together.

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