Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Now and then

With my high school batch's 10th graduation anniversary reunion looming, I've been accessing a lot of memories lately, brushing away the accumulation of 10 years' worth of dust from the mental snapshots and soundbites stored in the attic of my brain. It's funny how some things have changed (drastically, in some cases) in 10 years, and how some things never seem to change at all.

Last Sunday, I spent the afternoon and evening with some high school friends, one of whom, Marilyn, I haven't seen since we graduated from Jubilee. She and I were close in our freshman year. I was the nerdy new student who had transferred from a nerdy Binondo school, and my social skills were very much stunted; Marilyn offered her unconditional friendship and helped me adjust and settle into my new environment. We fell out of touch over the years (our batch was reshuffled every year, and we were never put in the same section after 1st year), but when we met up on Sunday, it was amazing how the 10 years seemed to just melt away. She's the same honest, guileless, easy-to-laugh Marilyn I got to know in freshman year, and it was wonderful being reunited with her, even if I'm no longer the same awkward, mousy Aileesa she knew back then.

With us that day were Raqs and Angge (faithful readers of my blog would already know who those two are), and another high school buddy, Dexter. Unlike Marilyn, Dex was never a close friend of mine during high school. We were in the same classes in 1st and 2nd year, but we didn't run in the same circles, even if he was also a transferee like me (he was a good student, but not a certified geek like me :p). We only got to know one another through Raqs, since they were blockmates in college, and we started going out as a group along with Angge. When I asked Dex if he had ever imagined that 10 years down the road, we'd be hanging out together, sharing love life stories ("AiLEE?!?") and swapping double entendres, he laughed and admitted that it never occurred to him.

It's also funny how some things come around full circle. 10 years ago, I was one of the emcees at my high school kabarkada Vina's debut (she was one of a handful of our batchmates born in 1979). This Saturday, I will be the emcee at Vina's baby's baptismal party (I will also be a ninang-- Ty will be my first godson! =D). In high school I was dubbed the "walking dictionary" of our batch, and while my writing was far better than my oral communication skills, it was not unusual for me to be asked to speak in front of class or a larger group. I suppose the only difference now is that I'm much more comfortable doing so, after having taught high school English and all.

Coincidentally (and contributing to my recent nostalgic mood), the book I'm currently reading, Marisha Pessl's Special Topics in Calamity Physics, is narrated by a teenage girl who has just transferred to a new high school for her senior year. It reminds me of another book set in high school, Curtis Sittenfeld's Prep, which Maddy and I were talking about just last week. In the course of our discussion, I surprised her by revealing that when I was a high school senior, my best friend was a guy... and not just any guy, but a varsity basketball player, CAT officer and campus heartthrob. And me, I was the four-eyed editor of the school paper, class treasurer, and consistent honor student. "Ailee, you and a... JOCK??" Maddy laughed in disbelief. Given that she knows me as Ailee the intellectual snob/grammar nazi/cynical pragmatist, it was no wonder she found that tidbit about my past quite amusing.

After all this time, it now hits me how far I've come along since high school... how far, yet not so far as to not be able to look back, remember, laugh, and appreciate everything and everyone I had in my life then and have in my life now. 10 years... don't they go by in a blink.


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