Summer marks the end of the school year in the Philippines. With the sun’s scorching heat, most people gather up the beach or mountain resort, either to celebrate the year’s achievements or to enjoy friends’ company. For senior students who just graduated, it is an opportunity to commune one last time before embarking on another life’s journey.
I can barely remember the details of the last summer with my high school friends except for the mixed feelings of excitement and sadness, of certainty and vagueness, and of hope and despair. It was the time when we realised that we were growing up and was about to enter an unfamiliar territory – one which required us to be more responsible and accountable. It was great to discover things, experience and learn life lessons. We blossomed, wandered a little farther, and flew a little bit further. It was scary to feel vulnerable but felt good when we came out unscathed and unbroken.
The last summer was about discovering ourselves. We found love or love found us. We felt the joy of wanting and being wanted; of chasing and being chased; of loving and being loved. We also felt the disappointment of being left out, ignored or simply rejected. We always wanted to fit in, to be in and to belong.
We found and lost friends or lovers, and we thought love or mutual understanding was all that mattered. We saw past the ugliness of life’s reality and marvelled at the beautiful things that we aspired. We were too optimistic that when we became conscious that things were going rough, we were crushed and our hearts once full of love and sanguinness were bruised and forever scarred.
Relationships were started and ended or left hanging. We watched or listened, built or burned bridges, and stood grounds or took sides. We thought our battles were bigger than the others, that life was unfair to us and we deserved better. Yes, it was the time when we felt sad for someone’s misery yet found amusement at the very chance of remembering it.
Two summers ago, I went home to reconnect with old friends. The encounter was one to remember. Nearly a week of hanging out with a bunch of 40 year olds was the best time of my life. Old jokes came alive, old people which meant previous teachers became the centre of most conversations and of course, the apples of our eyes.
There was the initial awkwardness – when you realised that the person you knew before was no longer the same person you hang out with or shared life experiences. We all changed but at the back of our minds we were looking for that thing that made us clicked and it was disheartening that somehow we lost that connection. All that was left was the memories and the desire of what could have been. Once that was over, we instantly let ourselves free and just enjoyed the time and opportunity to commune again after a very long time. In the midst of the surrounding noise, we knew that we achieved the closure that we needed – things we wanted to say were uttered. We had grown apart but came back and that was all that mattered.
Just like in the summer, when the heat is unbearable, we find solace under the shade of tree. To retreat and reflect, hoping we will find the strength and courage to bare ourselves again.