A familiar figure caught my sight. She went pass the security guards doing their security protocols. Seriously, what is there to frisk on her, who is ever pure and vibrant? None. Maybe she has perhaps a potential for theft… Theft of the hearts of people whom she has dazzled with her positivity. How can someone see her as a threat? She was walking towards me, who at the moment was queuing on the counter of a fast food restaurant to order some meals.
She went into her normal greeting, which honestly involved invading a person’s personal space. She then gave me a curious stare, scanning me from head to toe, and then with a big familiar grin, she told me that I gained some mass. I used to be a relatively thin guy. Thinner, because I was still skinny relatively.
That vibe of over-familiarity, most of the times, will put off many people. Hers was not the case. That grin of hers not only brimmed of familiarity, but also was contagious, now with me also grinning ear-to-ear, holding back my tears as I struggle to contain my joy. It is no longer a wonder why I mentioned her in my writings as “Everybody’s friend in ICE”. She was the person I grew a crush on three years ago.
While holding the tray full of the things that she told me to order, I searched for her within the premises of that restaurant. For the record, that restaurant has a clown as its mascot, on which for the children who were unaware of its popularity would be stricken by fear. As a clown myself, I cannot impose the same fear to intimidate the children playing around in order to make way as I search for her. It was not that hard to look for her after all. I carefully hovered my tray over those kids running around to the table where she was on. There she was, smiling vibrantly. As if I was guided to her, her vibrancy served as a luminary, a luminary that guided me when I was still an undergraduate.
Honestly, I was holding back tears, now that I found myself sitting in front of her. I once thought that a day with just the two of us was near impossible, as I recalled how I found it hard to approach her without eyes being on us. As what being “Everybody’s friend” implied, she has been always belonged to “everyone”, as expectations on having a romantic partner which would get their approval weighed down upon her, thus finding her true love became an elusive task. Though, the two of us became an item and her friends began to “root” for us, finding every opportunity to tease both of us, I rather saw those gestures as sarcastic acts, ever insincere and superficial. That was why, back then, I got a feeling that it won’t work. Thus, back then, I gave up, leaving some loose strings on my part. Maybe I was assuming. Or maybe I just caught a glimpse of myself when I was in the same situation back then. Even so, I was resolute to fix those loose strings, in order to put a closure. That was why I sought for her.
The thought of my mission brought chills upon my back. Or rather, I got chills because I drank too much cola for she said that she was not allowed to consume carbonated drinks, so I had also drank her share. Without putting my nose further on her physical condition, I was already seeing the tolls on her body as she had to toil in order to juggle fulfilling her obligations to her family in building their two-storey residence at their home province and living an independent adult life. Even so, her smile didn’t fade on her face as she made up for my shyness in asking for a cup of water from the service crew. I knew that there’s more beneath the surface of her smile, but I could not pry further as I just hoped that she would open those up at a later and a more comfortable time.
But I was no match for her as she managed to deduce the reasons for our meeting, maybe because she’s also well aware of the rumors that may arise when we would be spotted together, or she could see the ongoing soliloquy upon my face. She reminded me not to put any meaning to this meeting of ours. This movie date was a result of her loss to a wager on which I have to guess when her birthday would be. She was now interrogating me on where I got the information that her birthday was on the 19th of September. Of course, I couldn’t rat out my friends who also happened to be her orgmates…that time. It was Big Bert. (Hahahaha!)
That reminder alone quelled the tempest within my heart. The burden was relieved. I’ve never felt so liberated after a long time. As we sit upon the movie theater to watch Black Panther which was on its premier that day, when I thought about it, I felt that our relationship back in college was no different. The distance might not have shortened that significantly. That is maybe how she, being the Everybody’s friend in ICE, has distributed her interest to people, equally and indiscriminately. That was maybe why I, being gullible over simple signs, thought that it was maybe something. But that’s all that it is. I finally felt that I’ve put a proper end to a thing which never began in the first place, to those suppositions, to those what-ifs, and to those hopes. Having finally known my place, I found my standing ground on which to find my inner peace.
If it was just that easy to communicate our inner thoughts, like that, then there would be no misunderstanding. If it was just that easy to communicate our inner thoughts, like that, then all people would have rest at ease, assured that they’ve known those thoughts inside out, without having to pierce through the superficiality in people through suppositions and assumptions, with the risk of misunderstanding. But even though we have misunderstood them, could anyone mock us for misunderstanding?
And amidst those fleeting thoughts that came past my mind, she finally opened up about her troubles in her pursuit of love. The explanation behind her action of nipping what was happening earlier right of the bud was finally provided. She too had trouble on putting a label and meaning due to her then-ended exploit on love. And because of the ambiguity of that pursuit, she had held on to a hope that something might materialize, only that it didn’t. Having experienced the same with the girl with the purple-rimmed glasses for two years, I couldn’t help but to console her. Her pain was palpable even though she tried to be jolly in narrating it.
Even though it was excruciating to see a vibrant girl like her undergo such pain, I couldn’t help but express my hopes to her, with great certainty, that someday that she would find her Mr. Right. She deserved to have a great guy at the right time. That was what I’ve told her as we’ve parted ways.
Even after we’ve parted ways, I was skipping in my steps as I walked back to my abode in UP. I felt that my feet have springs on it as I felt light when I walked. Was it because my burden was relieved? Maybe yes. But definitely, it was because I contracted her radiant vibe which I was fairly certain that it was contagious. She really deserved to be called the Everybody’s Friend in ICE.