The other day, while looking for parking outside the mall, I saw four older ladies crossing the parking lot. They seemed like they were at least in their late 60's but more possibly in their 70's. They were all beaming, smiling, while kind of assisting each other as they were about to step up the curb. The sight of that made me happy, as I imagined how deep and true their friendship must be. At the same time though, it reminded me once more of that hole in my life, as I remembered my 'barkada', my closest friends from college.
We call ourselves the 'Phlegmies'. I know that doesn't really sound very good but I promise you there's a story behind that which I don't really want to delve into right now. There are six of us females and one male. So many years ago, in one of our usual gatherings, I remember us imagining growing old together. We used to say that even in our 'elderly' days, people would still most likely see us in the mall, or at some restaurant (God-forbid it would still be Wendy's, our favorite hang-out during our college days at the UP Diliman), discussing our angsts and deconstructing every little existential question we might still have. Or we could just be talking about showbiz too! That's the beauty of this group. We've always had fun and felt comfortable discussing any and every topic on the spectrum, from shallow to deep and back. It was just always fun and every time spent with these people always left me feeling enriched. These are friends who I can say REALLY know me and accept me...friends not related to me by blood but I will always love and choose to love.
We met in the early 1990's and stuck together and chose to nurture our bond. We've seen each other through academic hardships, crushes, love lives (whether real or imaginary for most of us early on), heartbreaks, family issues, work issues, weight issues, pregnancies, marriages, and everything else.
Sadly, migration had to happen for some of us. I'm in Illinois. One is in Tennessee. Another one is in New York and a fourth one's in Canada. Three of them are still in the Philippines, still enjoying each other's friendship. We dream of the day when all of us can meet up again in Manila, vacationing at the same time. We dream of travelling together, whether just in the Philippines or to some other Asian country.
Our lives have been changed by time and geography. But each time we get to talk, whether through email, by phone or in person, it always feels like nothing has changed and we're able to pick up from wherever we left off. It's always as effortless as before and everything just flows naturally.
I miss that now. I will always miss that and the thought of not having them around will always be my pain. I know I will never find friends like that again. The history is just too deep and too beautiful to ever be replicated. I have no illusions at this point.
No, I have nothing very positive to end this entry with; nothing very encouraging or hopeful to say. I miss my closest friends from the Philippines and that is just that. If anything, I just want to say to anyone reading this now who is geographically close to his/her friends, to savor that, to never take that for granted.
Don't take for granted that you see your friends or go out with them some weekends. Don't take for granted that you get to talk to them without spending on long distance calls. Don't take for granted that your children will grow old knowing each other or even becoming friends in the future. Don't take for granted that you have someone to vent your anger and frustrations to almost instantaneously because your friends are near and accessible. Don't take for granted that you can complain to someone or even complain together about your cellulite, graying hair, wrinkles and stiff joints.
You have your friends, your chosen sisters and/ or brothers. Let them know how much you love them and that your world has so much depth and color with them in it. Let them know how happy and grateful you are that as you grow old together, you will have each others' wrinkled hands to hold.
*Image courtesy of http://www.123rf.com/photo_5256771_community-of-people-holding-on-hands-concept.html