Diaspora

Last week I went swimming with a few of my high school batchmates. (I’m still trying to get used to saying “batchmates” instead of “schoolmates”.) My summer has generally been warm and languid, so I definitely welcomed the opportunity to take a dip in the pool and catch up on things with my friends.

We spent much of our time talking about college—the subjects, the schedules, and the ways of life that we will have to get used to once classes begin. Some of us are going to Xavier University in Cagayan de Oro; others, to MSU in Marawi and Iligan; at least one will attend Silliman University in Dumaguete; I and three of my classmates will go to UP Diliman; two of my classmates, to UP Manila. It’s a full-blown diaspora.

Wherever we will go, we will inevitably change; meeting new people, making new friends, and adapting to new places will definitely do that to you. I wonder what our reunion ten, or five, or maybe even two years from now, will look like. Will we still laugh our asses off to no end, or will we just stare blankly at each other, making small talk and thinking, “I used to go to school with these guys. What happened?”

People change. I know I will. If I took a picture of myself today and looked at it a few years later, I would not be able to recognize myself. What more with my high school friends? Everything stopped at Graduation Day; our latest memory of each other will be the hugs and the youthful smiles we exchanged before we set off our own separate ways. When we see each other again, we will not know what to expect, so we will expect for nothing to have changed. But that won’t be true. Everything will have changed.

The last thing I will remember of some of my friends is an evening spent in our classmate’s house, belting songs from our parents’ heyday. During our reunion, we might hit the karaoke again, or take another afternoon dip in the local swimming pool. Bob Ong said it well: we might be able to revisit the places and sing the songs of our youth, but we will never be able to visit the time again.

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