Just when I thought I’ve finally ventured out into the unknown, or at the very least, the unfamiliar, something strange happens, and I remember two things:
1) It’s a small world after all; and
2) Sometimes, cliche’s like that can be comforting
Today (It’s technically April 12, but since I haven’t slept yet, when I say “today” I mean April 11), one of my officemates (W1) treated us (our team and some other friends from different departments of our office) to dinner, as a celebration of his passing the Bar Exam. Just in case I haven’t told you, I work in one of the buildings in Bonifacio Global City, Taguig. And since W1 was treating people from the office, he decided it would be better if we ate somewhere nearby.
We chose Kabisera (ng Dencio’s), which is located in Bonifacio High Street, just a few blocks away from our office. We actually just walked to get there. Since I’ve had the same job for 2 years, I’ve gotten quite familiar with Bonifacio Global City, and actually saw how the Serendra-Bonifacio High Street area developed. I’ve been there several times over the past 2 years, beginning from the time that there were hardly any stores open, and until now, when it’s become one of the typical places to hang out in. Anyway, my point in telling you this is because despite my having gone there several times before, I’ve never actually seen anyone I know (except people from the office, whom I expect to see anyway). Well, I’ve seen some celebrities (Mikel Campos!! Manny Villar! (Oh, wait, this one’s a politician)), but so far haven’t run into anyone I know from school (either college or high school), that is, until a few hours ago.
I was on my way to Kabisera’s rest room when I saw someone I recognized–a girl from my high school. We weren’t really close friends, although we did know each other because we were classmates in grade school as well. Anyway, I guess she still remembered me because when she saw me pass by, she waved her hand. I smiled and waved back, as if we were old friends, even if we’re not really. Back in high school, she was one of the most popular girls (she’s extremely pretty, by the way), and me being an Outcast Genius (hehe, take this quiz to get the joke) naturally wasn’t very good friends with her. Even if we were classmates for several years in grade school, we never really talked to each other when we would see each other in the hallways, or in the canteen. She had her friends, I had mine, and it wasn’t like we were enemies either. I guess, our worlds then were just too different (and distant) from each other, that we didn’t really care. Eventually though, we went to the same university in college, and although we still didn’t become friends (we had different courses and didn’t run into each other much in campus), I guess as a courtesy, we gave a polite nod during the few times that we saw each other in the hallways.
I guess I’m mentioning this now because it actually felt a bit weird for me when she smiled and said hello. We’re not close friends after all, but I’m thinking that there could be a slight chance that she felt that same way I did when we saw each other–that we’re both not that far away from home after all.
Okay, that’s probably too sentimental (not to mention presumptuous), but you see, I live in the South of Manila (that is, the Parañaque-Muntinlupa-Las Piñas area), and having lived here all my life, I feel that I’ve been more sheltered in my youth than most people. I’m not accustomed to commuting in the city, interacting everyday with people I don’t know. I got used to going to a mall where I would know the names of every other person passing by, and so when I would be in a place that’s not ATC (or SM Southmall or Festival Mall), I tend to feel like I’m somewhat out of my comfort zone. Perhaps, that’s the reason why every time I see a familiar face, be it a friend’s or a random person I used to pass by in school, I feel a bit more comfortable, because if I still see someone from home (and when I say home, I mean the South of Manila), then that means I’m not that far away, right?
And by coincidence, just a few minutes later, as my officemates and I were leaving the restaurant, I again saw someone who studied in my high school. This time, I didn’t greet her at all. Apart from the fact that she didn’t see me anyway, she’s a year older, and so I’m quite sure that she doesn’t know me. I only even know who she is because she always used to win quiz bees and stuff, but we’ve never spoken to each other. Still I found it weird seeing 2 people from my high school on the same night, in the same restaurant that’s not in the vicinity of our homes, where I usually see people like them.
Things got even weirder for me later on, because on my way to the restaurant where I would meet with my mom (so we can come home together), again, (but in a different restaurant this time–T.G.I.Friday’s) I saw not just one, but 3 more people from my high school (they were all together though so I guess that counts as one). One of them, I knew pretty well, so I said hello and I even chatted with her for a while.
Anyway, on the way home, I got to thinking about how often that actually happened–that I would see someone from my high school in a place that’s somewhat unfamiliar to me, or far away from home, and even though he/she isn’t my friend, I’d feel a bit more comfortable.
One of the times I most appreciated it was this time in college when I’d stayed late in school to watch a concert, and again, because I’m an Outcast Genius, I actually watched it alone. Anyway, it finished earlier than I expected so when I asked my mom if she could come and pick me up, she said she still wasn’t finished with her work, and will be able to pick me up only after another hour or so. It was then that I felt how alone I was, because I has nothing else to do but wait for her at one of the benches near the school gate, and because it was past 9PM, there weren’t too many people around. Only one or two people would pass by every 10 minutes, and I didn’t know any of them. I was getting really bored, and was almost asleep when I heard someone call my name.
He was also one of my classmates in high school, and again, someone I wasn’t very close to, but occasionally saw in the hallways and said hello to. He asked me if I was waiting for anyone, and I said I was, but that she wouldn’t be there until after an hour or longer. He said he was on his way home, and was about to say goodbye, when I remembered that his house was actually only around a kilometer away from ours. So I said to him that my mom could actually drop him off at the entrance to his village, if he wanted. And of course he agreed, because that would mean that he wouldn’t have to take the bus, and wouldn’t have to shell out any more money (except for the tricycle). So he stayed, and I wasn’t anymore bored because I had someone to talk to.
I feel really lucky to still be surrounded by familiar people, despite all of the time that’s passed since high school. Even though not all of them are friendly or nice, and too much familiarity can actually hinder people from improving themselves or moving forward, still, sometimes you get so distracted with learning more and more about the big big world, that I think it’s quite alright to have these reminders every now and then that you’ll always have something to go back to, you know, just so you won’t get lost completely.
On another note, HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my mom and my brother who both celebrated their birthdays this week! 😀