it’s hard for me to write for and about my friends. i always feel i will fall short of the mark. ‘coz they’re just so darn great, ‘ya know? but here goes.
i met lauren in college. i was kind of a loner, definitely a misfit, and had a tendency to leave folks abruptly in the middle of a conversation–because i’d fulfilled my quota of small-talk for the day and had other things to do, like read a book while sunning on a rock in the garden, far from the maddening crowd. “meeting” people was, and sometimes still is, awkward.
lauren was my lab partner. (people tend to bond after ruthlessly vivisecting innocent amphibians. survivor’s guilt, maybe.) she was, likely, the first close friend i had in college. it was just easy to be around her, because we could shoot the shit over everything and anything, no subject was taboo, and i felt i could leave anytime and not be subjected to tampo. her house was midway between the uni and my boarding house, and somehow i always felt welcome in her home, so i’d drop by unexpectedly (an inconvenience that i wouldn’t want done to me, ms. double standard), and just hang out for x number of hours whenever i felt in need of company.
lauren was also, believe it or not, much friendlier than i was. or so it seemed to me. it’s kind of a toss-up actually, because she’s also a loner type (more so then, than now), so it was a conscious decision on both our parts to band together rather than auto-repel each other. a case of one would fall back and the other push forward, and then vice versa, and somehow it balanced out. and because we were pulled to the same kind of people, with the same core values albeit radically different personalities, we ended up being part of a much larger group of interconnected friends. a lucky thing. those friends are pretty much lifers for me.
my friendship with lauren has survived fire; working together in the same company (ever seen friends “break up” over professional differences? not pretty); separation (she lived in the US for a while); her return to christianity while i remained in religious limbo (she’s the best type of christian, someone whose actions are a sincere struggle to be a better human everyday, and who respects your own struggle without burdening you with expectations on how to go about it); and her suddenly perfect hair. well, the last one is new, so we’ll just have to see how we weather this evolutionary phase. *crossed fingers*
lauren teaches me to be honest. of all my friends, she’d be the one to balls out say exactly what she felt about something or other and how it affected her, and give you the opportunity to give your side of it, rather than leaving you reeling with what-the-fuck-just-happened. she’s also the type to apologize first, while you’re still busy figuring out whether your mad is justified, and whether you should apologize for lashing out like a brat (or, as is sometimes the case, an animal in pain). it’s refreshing, and brave, to open up like that. not everyone does it. i kind of haven’t gotten the hang of it, though i recognize how much better it is than being an asshole by default.
lauren has also taught me to give prior notice before disappearing on people. it’s a courtesy and a concern for others, saying “i’ll be unreachable through the usual channels for x number of days.” so you know she hasn’t been kidnapped. and, also, you’re assured that when she rejoins the human race, you’ll pick up where you left off. while clingy is bad for the soul, and independent types need space, lauren’s commitment to grace is such that she gives you a head’s up. (i still have to curb a yen to disappear without prior notice because bad manners die hard.)
without lauren, i probably wouldn’t have laughed as hard, or as much, in college and after. her capacity for joy is infectious. and audacious. added to which, i would have had very few or zero visual reminders of our shenanigans (and i need visual cues, otherwise my early alzheimer’s kicks in) because she’s the cam-readiest of us all. the prompt to capture a random moment that seems ordinary now but will be powerfully nostalgic later is hers (and we shamelessly disavow responsibility, then pester her to post).
and having always been weird about writing, i maybe would have delayed the inevitable some more…if not for her recommendation to her (then) office. my first publishing job after i left teaching for good.
you know how some people help make a better version of you? when you feel lazy, or craptastic, or hormonal, they make it worth the effort to be just a little bit less shit-faced? there’s really no cause to don a mask, dignified or otherwise, because they know you too well–they’ve been there for the sunny stuff, and for the bitter shit-shoveling when you were depressed as fuck, and they had to shove their own stuff aside, to be present for your piteous self. but whenever you’re dourly contemplating the relevance of boy abunda’s latest on-dit, feeling irritated over kris aquino’s newest look-at-me headline, or reflecting on your deprived childhood sans the wisdom of kuya bodjie, they also tell you to get over yourself, and laugh with you.
so, manang lauren, thanks for laughing with me, and crying with me, and keeping tradition with the “famous five round-up” every time we gals see each other. #may4ever. because of you, every kada jaunt feels like a traveling feria complete with show freaks and horror house habulan (yes, that’s a compliment, and a true story).
happy new year! happy 18th burp-day (her bday’s feb. 18)! thank you, thank you, for the love.