It’s been 11 years since I left Manila, and while I have settled nicely into my home here in New York, I would have thought the friends I had left behind in Manila would’ve adjusted by now as well. Apparently not.
My family has done a better job only because I think they know that I may be in Alaska and stuck there and unable to do my almost every year and a half interval between homecomings and we are still family, but my friends have not been as lucky coping.
My bestfriend, Fe, has avoided Makati for many reasons through the years, traffic being one of them. But per her admission, there are just things she cannot bear doing because she would end up doing them without me. She has purposely avoided going to the places we used to go to together because she says it just hurts to be there. We had made it a habit to sit and just people watch — be it from the food courts, from one of the restaurants, or even just lounging around at Starbucks. Going back without me there, according to her, is very painful.
Once she chatted up someone I had used to go out with and he gave her the same reason. That going around the places I used to frequent was just not the same. That one, I can understand perfectly. There is always a sting to returning to places once shared with someone you were involved intimately with after a parting — specially a painful one.
But between bestfriends — can it really be that painful after 11 years? Apparently. I guess I didn’t go through that because I was the one who moved away. Everything was new to me — so I didn’t have any memories to avoid about the places I visited. When I walk the streets of Manhattan as I have a conversation in my head with Fe, I dream of one day walking these streets with her. It helps that she’s been here once before I moved here, so we have shared favorite places and memories of the things I see and do. One day…
During this last homecoming, we walked around Greenbelt and while waiting for a cab back to the hotel, she tells me she hadn’t been around Makati as often as we had gotten used to. When I asked why, she said it was because I was gone. I wanted her to go see Cyndi Lauper’s concert this March for us — or watch her forever idol Dolly Parton’s new movie Joyful Noise, and she simply said “No. x x x It’ll be too painful.” I wish it were not, but I know that pain in a different sense.
I was just telling another friend this Sunday how difficult ir is when all your friends are back home. Facebook, G-mail’s Google Talk, regular e-mail and text messaging have helped to bridge the distance somehow and makes it so much easier to stay connected, but it isn’t quite the same. That’s why I’m grateful that I got to see the people who mattered the most to me during this previous visit home. It gave me a lot of memories to take home here to New York.
Here’s hoping we get to see each other soon, my friend. Hang in there..