Every time I think of how long Kaye and I have been friends, I think. “WOOOWW! It’s been 20 years?! 20??!!!!”
Then each time, I get transported to a memory from what seems like yesterday of two kids waving at each other from the balconies of their apartments which was just across each other. I gave her instructions to step out of her balcony, find my building, count six floors up and “may bata dun na kumakaway” (“there’s a kid waving at you”). This makes me giggle. I could have just said “ako na yun!” (“that’s me!”). LOL. Then a few minutes later, I came over to her place. We played up and down the floors of her building and tried to knock on the door of another classmate’s house and we waited and waited and waited for hours not knowing that we were on the wrong floor and that our families have already called search and rescue! Haha.
It was 1994, fourth grade, and I was the new kid in school. I knew her by name but we were not friends. She sat on the other side of the classroom with the smart kids and I was on the other side not really having a clue about anything. I was a transfer from a Catholic / British / Indian school, confused in deciphering both English and Filipino languages. We ended up in balconies because I was bored one day while at my mother’s sixth floor ladies’ salon and decided to bother the kid I knew from school who lived across where I was at. I phoned her and had to introduce myself first. I also had to ask her which street was their balcony facing, when she said it was facing the same street I was looking at, I gave her the instructions. Then the rest is history…
I don’t recall how or why I have her number. I think I once heard her say it to someone… (Have I mentioned I’ve got stalker tendencies??!! Kaye is witness to that!) hehe.
Bel came along in 3rd year high school, year 1999. She was from the Philippines and had that “Filipino attitude”. Haha. Not to stereotype and be racist to my own fellow countrymen. But most of us in class grew up in UAE and was adapted to a more “tamed” behavior which was expected of all of us who grew up in immigrant families. Then came Bel. She’s smart but boy was she loud and smart-mouthed – a little too much for my own taste. I hated her. Hahaha! She started to be close friends with Kaye so I hated her even more! Hahaha!
It was only later that school year when we happen to be stuck with each other to organize a Teacher’s Day event and later do a case study together. It was only then when I realized how cool of a person she is so I started warming up to her. We bonded on those projects, crushes, quotes and the movie “Never Been Kissed” starred by Drew Barrymore and Michael Vartan. And again, the rest is history…
As I recall, our class batch was never more that 18 students. You can imagine how close we all have become when we’re just that few and have been together since we were 7- or 8-year olds, making graduating high school both a big achievement to celebrate but also a heartbreaking experience.
We all knew that we had to go our separate ways after graduation. Our families had plans for us. Bel and I were among the first to leave, the very next day after graduation! Traumatic noh?! I will never forget Kaye’s face when she knocked on my door to bid me farewell. It still makes me teary to this day. I remember hastily letting her go on her way to Bel’s farewell get together as I was not accustomed to emotions and farewells then. We all never had to face that reality before. I knew a big change was going to happen. I was to fly that day, leave everything behind in full knowledge that, in the evening, I will be in a different country where everything is unfamiliar to me. And in the morning, the room I wake up in, the streets I will walk, the school I will go to will all be different. No Kaye, no Bel, no friends, nothing familiar at all.
Kaye flew to Cebu a few months later, I was in Makati and Bel was in Baguio. The rest of our classmates, the very people we grew up with, got pretty much scattered all over the globe. It was a very traumatic time for all of us. We have all been geographically apart since but blessed to be able to see each other every few years. Kaye made a surprise visit to Abu Dhabi this year — and surprised we were indeed! Hehe. With the help of modern technology, the rest of us have managed to keep in touch – with minimum communication but connected nonetheless.
Since our 2001 high school graduation, we all have obviously adjusted to our new environments and have tackled our own obstacles. We’re adults now. Some of us have families and all other things. Some, unfortunately, is nowhere to be reached despite all efforts to get in touch with them.
Kaye is now in Singapore, I’m in UAE and Bel works in a cruise ship (NPA** since she constantly travels the globe). And I am grateful that the 3 of us have remained friends these long years and still share small and big bits of our lives like we were never apart.
I guess if someone really wants to be part of your life, they will make an effort to stay in it – and we have.
I love September because other than it has the birthdays of my mom and brother, it is also the start of the Christmas season and (*) the mark of beautiful friendships I could not have imagined then that I would still have today.
To my girlfriends, HAPPY ANNIVERSARY!
I have known you both for a couple of decades now and I feel very blessed that our friendship is here to stay.
Knowing I have best friends like you make my world a much brighter place.
To togetherness and foreverness!
*September is the start of the academic year here in UAE
**NPA – No Permanent Address