There is a story that is always told about me. I call it my Most Embarrassing Moment.
It happened 12 years ago. In 2001. March 2001. Before high school graduation.
We didn’t have any more classes and we went to school simply for graduation practice. We didn’t need to stay in school for a long time for that. We stayed only until lunch time. Afterwards, we could go home, go to the movies, wherever. On that particular day, we decided to go to H’s house. To play video games.
H’s house was still newly renovated then. So he took us on a tour. We went to the kitchen, the garage, the bedrooms, the unfinished attic. It sounds pretty boring, and I guess it was. Until we reached the attic, that is. It was, as I previously mentioned, unfinished. The floor was incomplete. H told us to step on the beams. So we wouldn’t fall. He told us, but I didn’t listen. I put one foot on one of the beams, and one put on what I thought was a floor.
It turned out to be a ceiling panel. I found out the hard way. I found out, because the next time I felt solid ground under my feet, I was on the second floor of the house, and there was a gaping hole above me, where the ceiling panel used to be.
I fell through the ceiling. Of my friend’s house. As in, I destroyed a part of their newly renovated house. And all because I didn’t listen to H when he told us to stand on the beams.
Needless to say, after my friends confirmed that I wasn’t injured or anything, they laughed endlessly. All the way until we were on our way back to our own homes. In fact, they’re still laughing about the incident now.
It happened 12 years ago, but when we talk about it now, it’s still funny. But you must be wondering why I’m bringing it up now. Here’s the thing: That day, there were only five of us who were in H’s house. Me, H who owned the house, J1 and J2, my best friend and her boyfriend at the time, and JDG.
They were the only witnesses to that embarrassing moment. Only four people, and now there’s one less.
JDG passed away yesterday. It was a heart attack, they said. To tell the truth, I’m not that interested in the details. How and why are irrelevant at the moment. What matters to me is that he’s gone. He just turned 29 last March and now he’ll never reach 30.
I still don’t know how to process the information. He was such a good friend. We haven’t seen each other in a long time, but we exchanged some long Facebook messages a while back. And he did greet me on my birthday last year, and he said that he was sorry he couldn’t come. I said it was too bad and that we should just see each other next time. I guess, that can’t happen now.
I don’t know how to write about this. Which brings me to my next point: my next most embarrassing moment. It was just a few hours after the first one. Yes, it was more embarrassing than falling through the ceiling of my friend’s house.
We were in the jeepney, on our way home, and joking about the double-meaning of the verb “fall”. I literally fell that afternoon, but JDG was saying that I also figuratively fell, as in, fell in love, for H. Well, we were in high school at the time and talking about being “in love” was the thing to do.
“You fell. In more ways than one,” JDG said.
And stupidly, or guiltily (because I did like H at the time), I countered with, “That’s right. I fell. And no one catched me.”
I actually said catched. And in front of JDG, too. The most grammatically aware person I knew. And because I’m very pompous about my knowledge of English grammar, it was way more embarrassing than having destroyed someone’s ceiling, when I made that grammar mistake.
“Caught!” JDG said, and J1 and J2 could not have laughed at us any harder.
Here’s the thing: all my memories of JDG and me seem to be of the two of us arguing. Because I dared to challenge his debating, fighting, arguing, and English skills. How arrogant I was, to think I could be better at him at something, anything. Especially the stuff that he was really good at. Now I think he was probably just indulging me, or perhaps he found my ineptitude entertaining. Whatever the reason, he went off to become a successful lawyer, and I’m, well, not a lawyer.
And the disjointed thoughts (and most probably there are also grammar errors) in this blog entry don’t make me feel any more confident. Thinking about it now, I never could’ve beaten him in any debate. But I’m happy that he at least thought me worthy an opponent. Even if it was just for laughs.
I still wish I could write as well as he did. I wish I knew as many words as he did. I also remember him being one of the few people whom I could talk to about books and music and movies. Or, okay, you can basically talk to anyone about those topics, but he was one of the few people who would get the references I would make, and make references I would get.
Perhaps I’m biased and I haven’t met a lot of people, but he really was one of the most brilliant people ever. Intelligent and insightful, he could intellectualize your very human problems without being unsympathetic. He could see things objectively but still be a very concerned friend. And he had a great sense of humor, too.
It might be in bad taste to quote from The Walking Dead, but this was the exact line I remembered as soon as I heard the news. Brilliant as he was.
“[He] was a loss to the world. Hell, [he] ran this place. I just worked here.”
– Edwin Jenner, The Walking Dead (S1E6,TS-19)
He was such a brilliant writer. Some of my friends posted pictures of his letters or screenshots of their last text exchanges with him. I looked for ours and found that it was over two years ago. We were talking about how busy we both were and how we haven’t seen each other in ages. I said that it’d been difficult to see him since he moved, and he said that it’d been difficult to see us since he started his job. So we were talking about all that lost time and he said, the last thing he said was, “Well, we’ll always have H’s ceiling.”
I’d hoped for a more recent memory than that, but at least we do have that. And that we always will have.