Yesterday I felt like a stranger in a place I called home for four years.
The problem with reunions is that people always make it to be happy and celebratory. It’s not, not fully, anyway. There’s always that stage of bitter awkwardness, longing, maybe even, regret.
Walking the short distance to Ateneo yesterday felt exactly like that–like meeting a long-lost cousin you’ve never seen before. You’re supposed to be overjoyed. Hugging and jumping up and down is proper, but it doesn’t feel right. What should have come so naturally seems so uncomfortably unfamiliar.
For one, that favorite blue overpass that made my life much easier, the one that I sleepily stomped on almost everyday for years, now had this strange rusty gate installed, separating the first few steps from the rest of the sidewalk. Past the entrance, and I had to show an ID to the cautious guard, I found myself walking on a newly paved walkway, built probably to prevent the jaywalking that I conveniently kept committing last year.
But after that initial shock of change, everything seemed to be in perfect order, and by that I mean, nothing has changed. I was even wearing my standard school uniform–a T-shirt, short shorts and flats. The first few people I saw, complete strangers by the way, all wore jeans. Was there some bizarre new dress code I hadn’t heard about? I saw a guard and instinctively panicked. I did not carry that familiar weight of the sacred ID card on my bare neck. I practically had to duck away from him. It took me a few moments to remember that I wasn’t a student anymore and I came armed with three IDs, including the very crucial Alumni Membership card, in case anyone decided to doubt my presence there.
My interview was set in MVP Basement, Bo’s, not Figaro, the coffee shop where Je and I created most of our thesis in. It had been replaced early on in the school year, that much I’ve heard.
I walked along, checking things off in my head like an inspector–same, same, same, same, same. Not same! Faura Hall, that whitish, grey building older than my mother, was now in strange orange. This brick-ish color is something Ateneo has learned to identify with. It’s like the rubber band that ties all our school buildings together–from law school to LS to ASMPH. While it blends under the same monotonous color scheme, Faura stuck out like a sore thumb. Such sacrilege to have painted this magnificent, classic, earthquake-proof structure some offensive color that it managed to survive without for decades.
After my interview, I automatically proceeded to the Pub Room. More than the customary hi-hello-byes, I wanted to talk to some of my friends. Luckily, when I opened the Pub Room, I wasn’t greeted with the normal enthusiastic freshmen and sophomores asking me what I wanted and telling me that all the editors had class. They were all there. And they entertained me until I was able to decide if I needed to take a cab or brave the train to Makati. Once again, life had to step in.
Ateneo has moved on; I haven’t.
In other news, Jason finally received his CFA I exam results last night. It cost us around 400 pesos just looking for Internet around Greenbelt and waiting for the mail to arrive. Awesome stuff, he got really good marks too which wasn’t as surprising as I let on because this is one field he’s amazing at.
I know I’m so INYOFACE with my congratulations but I’m just really ecstatic. I’m so proud of him. Being the one of those who sat with him as he pored through all those books (with no pictures), I know how hard he worked and how much he wanted it.
In other news, today I woke up feeling like crap (I will not mention why online, let’s just say, Seattle’s Best GB did not have very clean restrooms). And in spite of that, I had to run around Pasong Tamo. I stopped at Shell, discovered I had no money, ran to the ATM, ran back to Shell, drove to the office, parked, ran up to my desk, discovered my atm is missing, ran back to the car, ran to Shell, ran to the atm machine, ran to the bank, got a new atm. I got to the office at 1:40 and I managed to do all of this before 2:30. Despite my pains, I’m feeling bionic.