Paul* has been my friend since we were in grade four. Ours was a friendship that neither of us recognized at first. I can still remember how we used to bicker with each other and how I rolled my eyes at him and he would throw me a disgusting look that told me I was the most ridiculous person in the world.
Things changed when we went to high school. By that time, though we never talked about it, we knew that we’ve gone a long way back. He knew he could count on me and I knew I could depend on him. Aside from my own circle of girl friends, Paul was one constant thing in my routine. He usually dropped by at our house to talk about anything. Among the topics we usually discussed were the time he was selling ice candy around town, the time his mother died and the girl he was head-over-heels in love with. I can still remember buying a load of pandesal from him at dawn to help him finish early and helping him smuggle a picture of his lady love. Those were such ‘good ole days’.
We went to college and we matured and so did our friendship. Then he got married. I was happy for him. I met his wife and I was glad that he found such a nice and smart woman. They had been through difficult times and through all those times, I made my presence felt. The difficult times were long and they were taking a toll on Paul I started to worry about him. But I stood by him no matter what, replied to his text messages even in the dead of night because I knew he needed someone to talk to.
So, I was more shocked than surprised when I learned he’d gone abroad. I was happy for him, I really was. But going so far away without letting me know, without even dropping a hint was a blow to me. I felt hurt, but I assumed he had his reasons. He was abroad long when I finally received an email from him. I was so glad to hear from him I forgot how hurt I was for what he did. We started to chat regularly and I was genuinely happy for what he was starting to make for himself.
Then, I didn’t hear from him for a couple of months. So, when I learned that he had come home and was already back abroad, I wasn’t just hurt, I was angry. It was such an unfamiliar feeling I didn’t know how to handle it. This time, I didn’t need to justify him. It was for me plain and simple. He didn’t want to see me and that was that. For whatever reasons he had, I simply don’t care anymore.
Today, I saw his picture on Facebook and felt sad. And I realized how much I miss him, not that smiling man on Facebook but the young boy I grew up with. Because wherever he is now, he is still my friend and the times we shared together will never be changed, not even by him or me.
*not real name