Friday, May 31, 2002

Best Friends
Life can get pretty lonely for a person. There are times when you just want to talk to someone, telling them what you think and feel. There are also time when you just want to be with someone, going out with them for no rational reason at all. Or perhaps there's a time when you're just looking for someone to comfort and support you when you're facing more than you can handle. A person is quite lucky to have a friend such as that. Unfortunately, I'm not one of them.

I've always longed for a best friend. However, I've spent most of my life being alone. Some might say I should have sought the company of family. After all, what better friends than your own parents and siblings? That's not the case with me. For quite some time, my mother and father were apathetic to me. They weren?t mean and abusive, but neither did they take a keen interest in me. They raised me mostly in fulfilment of a duty. They gave me what they would have wanted at my age, not what I want. That would explain the years I've spent playing the piano, disliking every single moment of it. As for my siblings, my elder brother just ordered me around and bullies me when things went awry. His focus was slightly averted when my sister was born but she herself has done quite some mischief around the house.

I remember the house I used to live in. It only had three rooms aside from the one allotted to the maids and driver. One was the bedroom where my parents slept. Another was where my brother resided. I frequented that room since the Atari was there but I slept in the bedroom with my parents. The last room was a small cube where my sister, still a baby, slept. I was four at that time and even then, I didn't exactly have any friends. I never knew my neighbors so my only companions were the maids who were a society of their own.

My mom introduced me to the son of her friend. His name was Jason. He was the same age as I was and when I first saw him, I thought he was fat. When I was left alone with him, he ordered me around. I disliked him immediately. I complained to my mom about it but she merely shrugged and thought it was just a child's fancy. Even back then, she never listened to me.

I was soon sent to preschool. I met a lot of kids there and I talked to them. I didn't form any lasting friendships though and that period was a haze to me. I remember the events that happened but not the people.

We transferred homes after preschool and I was sent to school at Xavier. I was teased by kids at school but that's normal. I saw Jason and thanked God that he wasn?t my classmate. In Prep, I wasn't exactly the most liked kid, especially since I had the tendency to cough out phlem. Me and a classmate pretended to have an imaginary friend whom we blamed everything, both good and bad, at. Still, that classmate was gone when I entered grade school and I doubt if he remembers me now.

Perhaps the best year during my childhood was when I was in grade one. I befriended a lot of my classmates and got good grades. In fact, a lot of us were getting honors. Naturally, it wasn't perfect since I still saw Jason around. Once, he even chased me with a Swiss knife he carried before class started. I told my mom but she wouldn't listen, giving the excuse that he?s an only child. As if that's a reason for parents to spoil their son.

With my love of video games and the emergence of a popular title called Street Fighter 2, I became quite popular. My group of friends would usually go to each other's house and play the game there. Sometimes, there'd even be sleepovers. The best players I knew where Michael and Raymond. We were quite close at the time, especially Raymond. Later on, that passion for video games would be passed on to our love of comics. Raymond showed us once his Marvel compilation of The Secret Wars and loaned it to me. It was around that time that Marvel released its trading cards and we collected that as well.

I once had a fight with Raymond that got his nose bleeding but we soon got over that and we remained good friends. Best friends in fact. However, he had the tendency to hog the games whenever I was having a sleepover which caused several of my other friends to dislike him a bit. As the years passed by, our innocence began to fade.

Wouldn't you know it, my closest friends turned out to be bullies and I somehow earned their enmity, at least that was the case with Michael. Raymond stuck around me for a bit but eventually, I got into disagreements with him, especially when the concern was with my other friends. I wanted my friends to become friends but I found out the hard way that couldn't always be so. Raymond was proof of that as I tried to get him to like my other classmates. However, they didn't really mesh and sometimes they'd get mad at each other in front of me. Given our testosterone level, it was a miracle a fight didn?t ensue.

Sometime throughout all this, I acquired glasses. All I was lacking were braces and I would have looked like a complete geek. Add in the fact that I was constantly sneezing due to my allergies and weak constitution and you have one of the most avoided kids in school. However, there were worse students than me so much so that even I teased them. That was my only consolation in grade school, cruel as it was.

When I entered high school, we were all reshuffled into different sections. I was praying that I'd get to be with my friends and away from all the bullies. I developed a bias towards them, especially since I thought what they were doing was unfair. That bias motivated me to not cheat (and not less others cheat from me) when classes would begin in high school.

My prayers weren't answered and I soon learned a fact of life: there'll always be balance in your life, the good apples mixed in with the rotten ones. Any bully missing was only replaced by one from another section. In other words, the status quo was preserved and I was more or less in the same position I was in grade school.

Only it was worse since everyone was cheating and I was the only person in class who didn't. This gave others the mentality that if you?re not helping each other cheat, you're a mean and selfish person. Still, I stuck to my principles and got beaten up for it.

All the while, I was looking for a group to hang out with. I found some potential best friends in my class but they didn't really want to be around me no matter how much I tried. During lunch, I?d be scrounging for a table to be with. When it came to group activities, I'd be one of the last people chosen and if it weren't for my intelligence, I'd probably have been left out. Sometimes, that was the case and I'd end up with the slackers of the class.

Second year was no different but I did find a clique who loved anime and RPGs just like I did. I spent my lunch hours with them and this proved to be the convenience of everyone. I'd have a group to hang around with and my classmates weren't burdened with my constant presence. However, I already saw a flaw in this since the clique I was part of were composed of students who belonged to the upper batch. That meant during my fourth year, they wouldn't be around anymore.

I hate it when I'm right and that was the case. Come fourth year, I had to deal with my situation. On a good note, I was tolerated in my class. Not much liked but not despised either. I was also part of the school paper so that expanded the people I knew. In fact, I knew most of the people in six out of the seven sections in our batch. I had three groups I could "hang around" with. I'm never invited but I'm not shooed away either when I approach them.

I was praying I'd get into U.P. since most of my batchmates were aiming for Ateneo. Unfortunately, that was the one school where I didn't get in. Resigning myself to my fate, I took my undergraduate degree in Ateneo.

My situation was better in the fact that I befriended a lot of people. I didn't have a constant group I could hang around with though and I didn't have a best friend. People would usually see me reading a book by the library steps, often alone, sometimes in the company of acquaintances. This went on for a year and amidst a heart break and depression, I was alone.

Second year was a great improvement as a clique similar to the one I had in high school appeared. We'd play RPGs and talk about anime and the like during our breaks. However, the clique had a tendency to lose its members due to failing grades. Again, I was foreseeing problems.

I?m now entering my third year and wouldn?t you know it, I?m right again. A lot of the group have either been transferred to different schools or are planning to immigrate to another country. Right now, there's only me, Carlos, Cyril and Lloyd. I doubt if we're going to get any new members this year and once 2002 passes, I'll be alone again when my fourth year arrives.

I have other friends whom I've met in a chatroom or during an anime convention but I rarely see them and some of them are angry at me. My relationships with them can be best described as "crash and burn" in the sense that I easily befriend them and for awhile, we get along but soon after, things turn nasty. Sometimes I screw it up, sometimes I don't but the results are the same. Right now, I'm like the Jack of All Trades yet a Master of None. I have a lot of friends although I don't have one I'm really close with.

Well, I'm resigned to my fate. Sometimes, that's all you can do.