Memories of my college days over a lunch of pasta in Manhattan

Friday  was a special day as I had the chance to meet up with someone visiting from Manila whom I looked upon as a dear friend in my college days.  We were both part of an organization in UP Manila called the UP Lightbearer Service Organization, and while she was in Nursing and a year younger than me and I was in the Development Studies program of the College of Arts & Sciences, we spent a lot of time in Rizal Hall in our corner by the back until she had to move to the College of Nursing for her course proper.

Lunch was short but sweet and brought back many memories.  I can still remember the look on her face when I mentioned to her a personal fact she had relayed to me about her mother who had passed on years before we met, and she marveled at how I could’ve remembered that after all these years.  I told her it wasn’t that I had a terrific memory, but I listened then and what she told me had mattered to me because she mattered to me.

Thanks to Facebook, again, for hooking us up.  I promptly posted a picture of us online tagging friends from our Lightbearer days, bringing in more comments  from other familiar faces from back then.

Meeting with Merle reminded me about how special my college years were, and looking back now, how most of my dearest friends today were actually people I had met from way back then.  Some of them “crawled out of the woodwork” and surprised me when they condoled with me personally when I went home to lay my father to rest.  There was a lot to catch up on, but sitting across from them reminiscing and talking about the things we used to do and where we are all today felt as if we hadn’t really been that out of touch with each other.

We tried to remember names and we updated each other about those that we are still in touch with.  And of course there were words of advice and reflection — I had put on my “Ate” hat.  We recalled the many occasions we celebrated in our house in San Juan.  Remembering when we all tried to sing but Merle truly sang.

People constantly walk in and out of our lives, some to stay a while or for keeps and never leave  and some just to pass through.  And yet it is in those moments when we find ourselves back together after long absences when we can measure the depth of a friendship, notwithstanding the period of separation.

We spoke about relationships and planning one’s future.  We talked about hope.. about family.. and I watched her across the table — a grown woman now, but still a younger sister in my eyes.  I am green with envy that she lived in my favorite city, the City of Lights for two months to train for one of her previous jobs — and she has been to at least twice as many places as I have been.  But most of all, I am proud to see the person she’s become.

As we started saying goodbyes, she started to thank me for making time to meet up.  I have as much if not more to thank her for taking the time to bring me back to those wonderful days of our youth when life was much simpler, and for reminding me now how far we have both come.  That is one friendship that has truly blessed my life.

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