As June is approaching, I can’t help but think about an old friend whose birthday falls in the first week. I’ve known JH since college. He was part of the small group of friends of my then-boyfriend. Once in a while, we hung out as a small group by playing billiards. Both of us were not that enthusiastic about the game so we ended up having chit-chats instead.
In our higher years, he became my classmate in Computer Programming (don’t ask about the programming language, it is ancient). Whenever the instructor was not yet in, I would explore the computer and chat with somebody who was probably a student from another computer class. JH would warn me not to do it as I could be reported and sent to the Student’s Affairs Office for idling. There were times when I wanted to tell him what was bothering me in my personal life, but I preferred to keep my privacy and silence. During those times, he would ask me why I was gloomy.
“Did you fail an exam?”
“Are you sick?”
“Are you and him okay?”
Looking back, I kept my silence because he was the only person who got along fine with both me and my then-boyfriend. I could not risk losing a friend like him over my problems.
Weeks before my graduation, he asked me about my plans. I told him that I would probably join the company I applied for two months earlier. He gave a piece of unsolicited advice that working in Baguio would benefit my personal life more. I did not give him a rebuttal. Instead, I asked him to go to my apartment a day before my graduation.
Two of us in the apartment would graduate, Jun and I. Jun mentioned that his mother would throw a dinner party on the night of the graduation. I told him that there was nothing to worry about since my mother and aunt would just be cooking pancit the afternoon before the graduation day.
Most of my friends were graduating, it was only JH who was available among my very few college friends. He came at the exact time that I mentioned, surprised to see that there were only two of them as my university visitors. He left at around dinner time, it was the longest time that we hung out throughout our friendship. It seemed that it was a hunch that that would be the last time we would see each other in flesh and blood.
I started with my first job soon after I graduated. We exchanged text messages about my new life. When the time came that I wanted to end my college relationship, we discussed it for almost one hour. He was trying to let me reconsider my decision. He did this for five months until he finally gave up. (As they say, the more you tell a person about something that she must do, the more she rebels about it). He continued to be good friends with my ex and I anyway.
Years passed and we became busy with our personal affairs. I never failed to greet him on his birthday but whenever I did, I would receive a lukewarm reply from him. I received a text message from him one day, asking me if we could see each other in the weekend. He would come over to his ex-girlfriend’s place and he was trying to optimize his stay. The meeting did not push through because I was not available.
We stopped communicating when I lost my phone. There were other ways to reconnect with him but I was busy with my personal life to even bother. Occassionally, I would ask former classmates and acquiantances if they knew any updates about him but nobody seemed to know. He just disappeared from all of us without a trace. His digital footprints were so limited so I assumed that he just wanted his past to belong to the past no matter how good or bad it treated him.
I lost some good friendships along the way. Some were my fault, some were not. I always believe that good friendship has a chance for reconnection wherever and whenever.