I sit in the passenger seat of your car and I listen to the engine roar. Music trickles through the stereo and cold air washes over me. The traffic slowly crawls like a gigantic centipede and you talk.
I listen. And I remember…
… a time when a single wink of your eye could send me into gales of laughter. We communicated using our own secret language. We never needed words. Because we knew each other so well.
You were there at that point in my life when I needed to grow up with someone. I never really cared about the boundaries of age, family and homes. All I knew was that you and I were together.
We played our secret games and smiled our knowing smiles. Every mystery was ours for the uncovering. Each imagination voiced out became real. We built mansions and castles out of tables and biscuit cans. We brought stuffed elephants, dogs, and rag dolls to life. We invented lives and loves named “Deeck” and echoed voices that warned, “Keep off the grashhhhh…”
We were bankers, artists, designers, mailmen, society people, detectives. We traced the reason for the death of a dog, participated in his gala funeral. I was Batman, you were Robin. We were transformed to adults by stiletto shoes and blanket dresses. We invented fashion styles like “Side View” and “Gladys”.
We knew every commercial jingle and we deciphered how they all connected and were just one song.
We danced, we ran, we fought, we cried. We laughed, we howled, we lived.
We kept each other company, two lonely souls craving love and fulfillment.
We grew up together and soon our world stretched to include other people. We found that life was not just the two of us.
We grew up and suddenly, we started singing different songs. We started seeing different possibilities in the same thing. We tested our wings and found that we could fly, and fly we did.
Slowly, painfully, we flew apart.
We lived our lives apart and uniquely. Until the time came when we could look at each other and not understand. Even with words, we couldn’t connect. We lost something in growing up. We lost our magic. We lost Batman and Robin.
Suddenly, we didn’t know each other. Suddenly, we were strangers. We talk but we never communicate. We flew so high and so far . . . we lost each other.
You talk and I listen, and in our aloneness inside your car, amid the muted music, I hear two children’s laughter at some secret joke no one but they could decipher.
You hand me a piece of an apple and I accept, remembering the times when we took every meal together. Now, we share a sliced green apple. I bite into it and savor the tangy sweetness.
The centipede moves and soon I near my stop. I fix my things and sneak a peek at you and my heart skips a beat.
Beautiful, beautiful friend. Fellow childhood adventurer. We’ve shared so much, discovered hidden meanings, scaled mountains together.
You catch my eye and you smile distractedly. The car stops and I open the door. I step out, mumbling my good-byes and then you’re off.
We no longer are children. We may have outgrown each other. But what we were before and what we shared will always be there . . . in the silence of a shared car ride, in the taste of a slice of green apple, in a smile and a muffled good-bye.
It’s twenty years later and we have found each other again. It seems we just needed to fly apart to grow individually, but as time went by, we reconnected and our grown-up selves understood each other again. We are now separated by thousands of miles and oceans, but the bond remains.
We have made new memories:
Me flying out alone to the US to be the lone Manila-based family representative in your wedding.
Your bridal shower in two bars, first where we got drunk, and the second where we got you a lap dance.
Our drive when we got rear-ended and the culprit just drove away.
Your wedding. My speech.
Singing and recording “You’re in Love” by Wilson Philips in your den with Belle and Chito.
Me giving birth to Keeto on your birthday.
Your last visit to the Philippines when Mommy died.
Me spending time with you and your family at your home during my US trips, even if only for a few days each year.
The tears when we spoke of emotional topics.
The laughter when we reminisced.
Always, the warmth and the love.
We have found new adventures we could be on together: the adventure of marriage and motherhood, the adventure of family and friendships.
I know you would always be there for me no matter what. And you know I will always be here for you.
There are no more green apple slices between us. We normally share US-bought chicharron in big plastic jars, nachos & dip, chicken wings, shrimp, rice, B.O.G.S.H. and Coke.
We no longer are children. We are raising our own. But what we were before and what we shared will always be there . . . the good times and even the bad. Our goodbyes now aren’t absolute, even if the literal distance between us is greater. We never say ‘goodbye,’ but ‘until the next time.’
You were and still are my beautiful, beautiful friend and fellow childhood adventurer. There are certain bonds that never break.
Such is ours.