STORY: The Future Has Arrived

I never had any childhood friends. Maybe it's because we moved a lot (although always around Manila) so I never really got the chance to develop relationships with other children longer than two years. Or, it could be that my brother and I were rarely allowed to go out because we grew up with the busy city streets outside our front door. But honestly, I believe I never had any childhood friends because as early as 3 to 4 years old, I was already the snobbish girl I [appear to be] am today.

Anyway, the closest I ever had to childhood friends would be my cousins... and the closest one would be Jinin, since we were born just 2 months apart. Don't get me wrong, I also have another cousin who was born just 10 days older than me and we have our own set of memories together but we both grew up in the city... so we grew up in similar environments. With Jinin, who lives in Laguna, I actually got to be one of those kids I would see in TV. The kids who would play  in the streets, bike through the neighborhood, and not go home until it's time for dinner. I have always been grateful (although I don't think I've ever voiced it out to her all these years) to her for sharing that experience, the carefree childhood I would only imagine, with me and I've only truly internalized that when I found out she was leaving. And not just to another town or another province, but to another country. And not for vacation... but for good. 

Typing this in, I can't help but feel really sad. To be honest, I can already feel tears in the corners of my eyes as all the memories we shared come flashing in my head. There is so much I want to share and capture in this blog entry but I doubt I can cover 21 years of growing up together no matter how much I try... but I will still try my best.

Actually, I still can't believe she's leaving. I shouldn't be surprised about this since the family has been made aware of this plan as long as two years back. I just never thought it would happen and I didn't expect for it to happen so abrupt. She's leaving this Tuesday and I only found out yesterday. I actually haven't absorbed the idea that I may never see her again until the moment I bid her goodbye this afternoon. The entire family went to Laguna (after so many months of not visiting! We use to visit as frequent as weekly before!) for a despedida lunch and I can't understand how everyone is so calm about what was happening. I didn't want to be all mushy while everyone was being so cool, so I diverted my attention to some left over work and treated our visit like any one of our past visits. But when we started to say our goodbyes, I gave Jinin an awkward hug (I have and still am not a touchy person!) and started to feel a knot in my throat. I regret not giving her a tighter one and I regret not telling her how much she will be missed. After this week, I may never get a chance to hug or talk to her in person again. I can't believe I'm going to lose my kumare. (Note: We would call each  other kumare when we were younger since this is what we hear the older ladies call each other. I still have the letter she gave me when we were about 6 years old in my letter box. And if I remember correctly, she said to her mare that she'd like to see her again) 

On the ride home, I went through an MTV-ish like AVP in my head of all the memories we shared. Of all those memories, the first ones I dwelt on would be all the nights we would pretend to be asleep in their bedroom but quietly be talking and talking. I remember Tita Jinky (her mom) sshhh-ing us when we would be too loud or if it was getting really late. We would be quiet for a while but we'd get back to our chismisan once we felt Tita Jinky went back to sleep.

We would talk about the most random things. I remember that we would have several debates on which network was better - ABSCBN or GMA. I was team ABS and she was team GMA. By the end of the conversation, we'd agree that both were great. Same goes for our discussion on which is a better place to live in - the province or the city. Of course I would be team city and she'd be team province. Eventually, as we grew older, our discussions would be more on the romantic side. We had different circles of friends throughout the year since we went to different schools, but during the summers that I would have vacations there, our circle of friends were the neighborhood kids. We would talk about who was prettier or more handsome and who we would have crushes on or who we think has a crush on who. There weren't many kids in the block so our list of people to talk about was very short but we never did run out of things to discuss about them. To all the kids in the block, so sorry for gossiping about you all these years!

In the mornings, we would play all sorts of street games. I wasn't very athletic, well, to be perfectly honest, I plain sucked! I remember the other kids not wanting me or my brother to be part of their team because we were dead weight. Since street games were mostly team sports, if you had a member who ran too slow or skip too low, the entire team loses! But Jinin and her brothers would ask the kids to let us join, even just as ket-kets. I eventually got better and I didn't play ket-ket anymore but Jinin would still always secure a spot for me in any of the teams so I could play.

As we grew older, street games became guitar jamming sessions and bike rides. There was a lot of other activities in between like marbles, tex, patintero, chines garter, futbol, piko, badminton, etc but in any one of those, I was always included by Jinin (although I remember some of our silly fights when she wouldn't let me join something or she wouldn't be as welcoming as usual to have me on her team. But looking back, I understand why!)

There was also two summers when we joined Jinin and Jinsen in one of the summer school activities in Church. Imagine, we weren't even residents of the place but we were enrolled for free. One of the pictures in this post is during graduation day of the week long school at Evangel.

All of the above activities usually take place in the summers when we would be left at my grandparents' house just a few meters away from Jinin's. The usual routine would be that me and Enzo would wake up at our grandparents', have breakfast and head over to Jinin's until lunch. We head back for lunch and wait about 30 minutes and we head back to Jinin's until dinner time at 7. After that, if Tita Jinky allows us, me and Enzo would go back to their house and watch a scary movie or something. At around 10pm, Enzo and I will ask permission if we could sleep over. If tita Jinky says yes, we set our beds on the floor of their bedroom and we all sleep together (we were just 6 cousins back then) and would be one noisy night until one by one, every one falls asleep. But there were also a lot of nights when tita Jinky would ask us to go back to our grandparents' house because they'd like for everyone to sleep early. 

Oh, and P.S., Jinin and I were always the last ones to wake up in the morning. But it's mostly Jinin than me. And Enzo and Jinsen would always find some disruptive way to wake us up when tita Jinky would ask them to tell us to get up for lunch. Take note, lunch! I remember Jinsen and Enzo either pulling sheets or throwing pillows at us! And imagine that even those didn't get us to get up! 

Summer stay-cations aside, we would usually see each other during 4 occasions - birthdays, summer outings, christmas and new year. Our family loves celebrations and we celebrate birthdays no matter how small the feast is. Sometimes they would come to Manila when it was my family with the celebration but most times, we bring the celebration to them in Laguna. I guess Manila just wasn't very "conducive" to celebrations with the tight spaces and busy streets.

We also love summer outings. Our usual destinations are Subic and Bato-bato resort. We've been there a number of times and as children, these were places we'd excitedly count down to happening every summer. We would have the staples - grilled liempo, fried chicken, adobo and lots of rice. With our only uncle around, we would also always have some sort of seafood for grilling, the usual being tahong and panga. During one particular beach trip, I remember clearly that Jinin and I were riding on this rented kayak and almost flipped over in the middle of the ocean. To this day, I still tell that story every time I see a kayak!

During the holiday season, we would only spend either Christmas or New Year at Laguna. Whichever celebration we didn't spend at Laguna, we would spend with our family from my dad's side. Usually, we would allot New Year to Laguna since there was better fireworks action there! And the streets were more festive since everyone in the neighborhood were like having one big party. The set-up would be that everyone would set up food at their garages and kids would hop from house to house. Come midnight, everyone lights all the noisiest fireworks together and everyone would sing and dance and just go crazy all together in the streets! After everything has calmed down, my family would drive home to Manila in time to greet the new year at our own home.

We love gift giving, too. We don't give out expensive gifts but we always make sure that everyone gets one. We even have an informal ceremony for it where each one of the 3 siblings - my mom, Tita Jinky and Tito Archie would call out the names of the kids and couples of the other families one by one to hand the gifts. After the roll call is over, we open the gifts all together. If there were toys, we would play those right away. If there were clothes, we'd fit them and parade them. Usually, Jinin and I would get matching gifts just in different colors and sizes. 

Eventually though, we grew apart. One reason could be the less frequent visits to Laguna (Enzo and I stopped spending of summer vacations there... although I stopped vacationing in Laguna earlier than Enzo. Enzo would spend the next 2 summers in Laguna without me). Another reason could be that we both got into relationships so we had less time for the stuff we used to do. And one of the biggest reasons I could think of is that we weren't as similar as we used to be anymore. As kids, it was already obvious that Jinin was the outgoing one and I was the shy one (I would usually direct our short films and she would star in them!) but it wasn't as apparent as it became when were entering high school and eventually college. Individually we went through the identity forming phase and we ended up in different ends of the spectrum. She liked cheerdancing and I liked debates. She liked performing, I liked drawing and writing. With street games aside, we found less and less things that we could enjoy together. At one point, I even became closer to her kid brother, Jay-Jay who was more like me in terms of interests. From that point, every time we would come to visit, I would hang out with Jay and she would hang out with my sisters, Allea and Amanda. We grew farther and farther apart as the years went by.

During gatherings, we would still talk and catch up but it wasn't like it was before. We never hated each other or anything, we just didn't see each other as the kumares we used to. I didn't realize that until now... Now that it's too late to bring back the wonderful thing we once had. I guess we were both just too busy with our own lives that the slow, quiet, growing distance didn't alarm us. And now that it has alarmed me, I just feel really bad that I couldn't do much about it now. Don't tell me there's Skype and all that because that will never be the same as having her beside me, with our hair getting tangled with each other as we share one pillow and talk about all the things we will be, will do and will go to when we grow up.

But of course, there's no use feeling sorry about any of this now, right? Things are happening, things are changing and it isn't going to stop for us to catch up with it. Jinin is leaving tomorrow (yes, it is officially Monday as I type this) and that's that. I'm not sure how she's feeling about it right now but even if she looks excited, I'm pretty sure she's scared, too. She going to a far away place without her family beside her and she just has to trust her gut that everything will turn out fine. I'm actually really proud of her for being brave enough to go through with it and for taking the first step towards the rest of her life. She briefly shared with me her plans and the thought of her eventually bringing her entire family with her just broke my heart even more. Imagine, this post has gone long enough just about her... what if all of them left! But I'll worry about that later. I'll focus on being happy that she's entering a new chapter of her life.

When we would talk about where we would be and what we would be doing back when we were 10 years old, lying side by side trying to talk quiet enough not to get scolded for being awake past midnight, we always imagined we would still be where we always were. Far enough to miss each other but close enough to visit any time. We would have our kids play with each other and do all the things we did. But the future we would only talk about then has finally arrived... and it looks quite different than the future we pictured together. We are definitely not going to be close enough to visit but at least we will be far enough to miss each other... In fact, as early as now, I already do miss her. 
I guess there isn't much more to say but good luck and I hope I see you soon, kumare. I hope with all my heart that the future we pictured together will happen eventually. That we'd have our children go on summer vacations together, exchange gifts during christmas and light fireworks side by side during new year. That they'd have summer nights and days to look back to like we do and that they'd also dream of a future together where they'd always be far enough to miss each other but close enough to always know they can visit any time.

Taken earlier today. THIS WILL NOT BE OUR LAST PICTURE TOGETHER. Please promise that? 

I miss you already but I love you more so I'm wishing you all the best and the safest flight! Oh, and that Jeric guy better take care of you! :)


Tito Archie said...

Andrea, I was so impressed, proud and amused with the way you wrote this. I knew that you could express yourself well, no, you express yourself in an excellent manner, way better than I could imagine myself ever doing. You've been like that ever since, its just that I seldom take time to really appreciate them. Let me thank you for sharing your thoughts and making us proud in any of your endeavors. May I also use this space to wish Jinin all the best in whatever journey she's going to undertake. You all have grown, I'm glad to be part in some way of the transition. We are a family who like the good times even when its not, hehe, so hug and kisses to every one, cheers, wherever we are.!!

Tita Marge said...

Hi Andrea! What you wrote was long but there was never a minute that I got bored! Most probably because everything that you said came from your heart. Very impressive! I've been hearing from a lot of people that you're good but I didn't realize that you're THIS good! Your experiences with Jinin brings back wonderful memories. These were the very same things I went through with your Mom, Tita Jinky & Tito Archie. How I wish Mizi would get to know all of you more and get the chance to spend fun time with everyone.

Continue what you're doing! Keep it up and make us your FAMILY real proud!