Writing here feels strange. I'm not the same person I was since my last post.
How to explain?
My closest friend in law school died on a Wednesday late September. Or a Thursday. We're still not sure when. I rushed to the hotel where she was discovered, but I couldn't go up to her room to help identify the body. I didn't want to remember her steeped in blood and in what looked like signs of struggle. Three days later, ABS-CBN would flash scenes of her and the lacerations, the tangled sheets, the knife, the cord, the cutter, the duct tape. And I couldn't look away. It had been a year since I saw her last, and in the mess of the moment, all I could think of was if her left shoulder was still higher than her right.
We shared the same name. We imposed the same acid test for our dates: their inner thighs must not rub against each other and they must know how to kiss. (Alas, The Coach had cornered me early in my life, so I never had the opportunity to try out the test.) We created our own vocabulary, like twins, and earmarked certain legal provisions (Article 25, Civil Code, on “thoughtless extravagance in expenses for pleasure”; Article 247, Revised Penal Code, on crimes of passion)—it was one of the ways to survive law school. In the summers between semesters, she in Manila and I in Cebu, we wrote each other 20-page letters, back when there was no email or easy access to computers. Then we started working, and this time we shared summers. Each January we'd bring out our Filofaxes, plot the holidays, save money, and on all long weekends we'd hie off somewhere, often to the beach where she’d swim and I’d dive. Even when I married we still kept to a few of our yearly jaunts.
We were easy with the term best friend, back when it didn't seem to require too much of each other. Somewhere along the way, the term sounded high-schoolish, uncertain, like a trend that didn’t catch up with the times. Our differences—did they multiply? were they there in the first place?—caught up with us: she couldn’t understand what she called my “extra long good faith,” and I couldn’t understand why she frowned, hard, when applying her makeup.
Her leaving was sudden—what leaving isn’t? But this, this was all for the wrong reasons, reasons I could’ve gauged had we been in each other’s lives the last year, extending our communication beyond texting and calls and gifts left with the lobby guards. Perhaps I wouldn’t have understood—I still don’t—but I would’ve at least been there.
I'm still saying goodbye, and haven't found the words for it.