May 20, 2007

Happy Birthday, Ta Car!

Can't believe it's been 21 years since our first ride together. G Liner--was it? On our first day in journalism class? I don't exactly recall if we became fast friends right then. But I do remember other rides: the one we took after wading in Espana's legendary floodwaters; the other when we barely made it in time for curfew after "escaping" from the initiation. And I do remember you being a constant, comfortable presence in the two years that Professor Kiko was preparing us for the "real" writing world.

As fate would have it, our rides didn't end in UST. We took the same route--almost anyway. From 4C5 to Mr. & Ms. to Sunday Globe to Kaibigan to Psicom. "Inseparable" could have been our song. We were together in most of life's crazier moments. Cheering for the office basketball team (we actually did that in leggings, sweat socks, shoulder pads. pompoms and all?), getting lost in the jungles of Cubao and showing up really late for an interview, just coasting along. Remember the era of the horrendous brownouts? We were so bored we often escaped to National Bookstore. When we had accumulated an outrageous number of books to last us a lifetime, we tried to learn to play mah jongg. (Too bad the mah jongg case split open, huh? To this day, whenever I see a set, I remember you, Berna, Andeng and me picking up the blasted mah jongg tiles along Quezon Av amid jeers of pong, chao and todas from the tambays.)

We rallied, took to the streets, battled it out in court, we "cocooned" and raved over Faith Popcorn. We learned together: to cook (your Dad's adobo is still the best, though), to fight, to play badminton. We learned the easy way and the hard way: I was just as heartbroken when you and Papa M called it quits. And when you told me you didn't like the person I was going out with, I listened. I figured you'd be there to coach me through the heartache anyway. And you did.

In the in-between years that we have not seen (and heard from) each other, you have been a constant presence in my stories. I'd often tell new friends how it is with you, Berna and me: we don't have to be there physically to reinforce our friendship. We don't have to play starring roles in each others' weddings (ewww! ceremonies, ceremonies...). And we don't have to be in the same country to bond.

You are now 40. And I will soon be. We have pap smears and memory lapses, backaches and pains in the butt, minor physical discomforts here and there. We have seen a lot, and only few things have the ability to shock us. There will be more roads to travel, more trips to take, more journeys to make. Whether separately or together, I know that they will be good. Just as I know that we will always be best friends.

Happy Birthday, Tita Car!!! Mwaahh!!!

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