I wasn’t excited about the graduation. Kindergarten was not enjoyable. The first few days of school were traumatic. They tricked me into the classroom and closed the door behind me while my mother stood at the other side of the door. I screamed, cried, kicked the door and possibly scratched the paint off too – my mother still remembers vividly how I bit the relative’s synthetic leather cover off the chair when she refused to bring me home, as promised.
The memory is still fresh in my mind; so are the memories of my childhood, and some of the friends I knew since a baby and toddler.
An old neighbor has passed away recently. I avoid attending funerals (or any social events), even if the deceased was related to me, more so if I am under no blood-tied obligation to be there. It might be better that way. I don’t believe I am capable in offering more comfort than discomfort due to my social awkwardness.
An old childhood friend asked about me. We knew each other since we were children, we had the sweetest puppy love as teenagers.
For many years, the adults were careful in mentioning ‘us’. I was almost a taboo – mention and die!
Out of habit, my mother whispered to me last night (even though we were alone) that he asked about me. It is understandable, given the dramas and history between us.
I admire his courage in inquiring about me with my mother. Time passed. It might be alright for anyone to mention my name in the common pool of old neighbors, especially that we are both married and have our own families. I imagine it would still raise many eyebrows if he were to mention my name in front of them.
It is kind of sad, you know. We knew each other for a long time, we cared about each other, we mattered to each other then. We should not be forbidden to care about each other as friends now. We were childhood friends first, although, I have to say that he was a big bully when he was a child. He had no qualms in beating me to tears!
Some relationships came and went. Most relationships leave impressionable prints in my memory.
We should be allowed to stop pretending that we didn’t care about the people in the past. I resent the mythical implied social requirement to smear a layer of secrecy over a somewhat normal friendship, if even allowed to transcend into.
I know. It is only me. I am surprisingly capable in compartmentalized emotions. I am able to be platonic friends with old boyfriends. A small part of me believes that we all can, but the society wouldn’t allow. There must be a privileged book about social codes – unspoken yet understood – that I missed altogether.
No matter what happened before, we were friends first. We parted because we were growing up. We were taking different directions. We were not suited as lovers. But, we were friends first.
He was one of the most reliable friends I had. He was always there when I needed someone. I believe he had not stopped caring for me even after we broke up. His ways of ‘caring’ for me might not be generally approved of, but I appreciated the gesture, time and thought.
I never truly found my sanctuary at that home then, nor this home now. Our old neighbors were very warm, too warm for my comfort. I needed and still need some distance, always. I need people not to pry into my life and decisions.
Through the grapevine, my life story flourished in the neighborhood with exotic colors and scents; one that I never knew I was capable in creating. The intertwined relationship between the boy, the immediate family, the relatives and everyone else who gathered around the campfire for juicy gossip, made normalizing impossible.
I am not sure if it had always been my mistake to believe we could return to being good friends. I didn’t know people were unlike me. I didn’t know people were incapable of compartmentalized emotions. I didn’t know they would think I was insinuating a second chance. Unknowingly, I might have led him on. Perhaps, just perhaps, it was reasonable to assume that I was responsible for the dramas that followed, like everyone else saw it.
Despite the past, I missed my friend.