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COLLEGE JOYRIDE.


 

 

Suffice it to say that summer is already here—but it’s a different kind of summer. For a lot of people I know—it’s the last kind.  Almost everyone’s graduating by the end of this term already—except me. And yeah well. A lot of those people are people I won’t forget—in one way or another, they’ve contributed to a lot of things I’ve learned about myself and about people in general—the good, the bad, and the ugly. So, since I haven’t exactly been blogging as much as I’d want to, I’ve decided to write something about these people (yes, you are special enough to me!).

Find your name on the list—if you do, then you’re definitely someone worth remembering to me. Happy graduation to the graduates! Happy Job hunting, too! I’m going to miss you all.

 

CARMINE- The first person I met in DLSU, my block mate. She’s always been my comic relief—the stress reliever and everything else in between. She always had so many stories to tell, and, kapag mang-okray yan, to the max! I always enjoyed hanging out with her, and I do have my regrets about why we haven’t gotten around hanging out more when I shifted. Thanks for listening—and for saying the right things whenever I had a story to share or when I needed to rant about—well, we both know what that was about already anyway, right? Thanks for making my college life a remarkable and unforgettable experience. Despite the stress, you’ve always managed to make me smile with your comments and punch lines (“Nobody will pawnshop you!”). I won’t ever forget how you eat Spaghetti (:P) and your infectious energy! Big thanks for being my accomplice, too. You’re a friend I will definitely not forget. Good luck with everything!

 

JANE- Jengjeng. I didn’t think we’d actually get to be so close, but she’s the best kind of friend—I never really heard her say anything bad about others. I won’t forget the FACLERN and MODIFIED PE experience. haha. I can’t believe how long (and how short) three years has been. And in the same way, I’m sorry I didn’t get to spend as much time with her as I would’ve liked after freshman year. Thanks for showing me how it is to be nice—too nice! Hehe. I appreciate all the help you’ve given me. Thanks for listening to my side of the story, too. I enjoyed all those late night YM marathons. Thanks for trusting me with your stories, too. haha. So sana matuloy na yung balak natin to celebraaaate! Keep in touch, always, okaaay?

 

MR- Well, congratulations aren’t really in order anymore since you’ve graduated a term earlier than everyone else! Thank you! Pareho kayo ni Carmine, you never fail to make me smile and laugh out loud. I may not be as good as you guys when it comes to pang-ookray, but I enjoy listening to you do it anyway! Haha. Hanging out with you in AKIC, and Greenhills was unforgettable. I hope I see more of you! Thank you also for being willing to listen and for the help you’ve given me. Most of all, thank you for the prayers! They were definitely one of the big things that helped me through.

 

VANE- I won’t forget how talented you were in photoshop and flash! Your patience is something I admire—wala ako nun, e. I hope I still get to see you. Sayang, we never really got to be classmates after CED. Hehe. Thanks for everything (for staying up late when we had group work, for that fun trip to the senate, and all the help you gave me)! I had fun with you and Carmine.

 

SHEENA- Thank you for the comfort you gave me that day when I cried. :And for the researching you helped me with. I appreciate it, and I can’t thank you enough.

 

ABBIE- Yey, see you next term! I know we don’t get to talk much, but thanks for everything. PLURK!

 

MS CANLAS- I haven’t exactly thanked you for keeping in touch, and for the advice you gave me last term. It was a difficult term, and I appreciate how you made time to read my letter. I enjoyed having you as a professor in CED, and I’m sorry that ended so soon. Thank you for the kindness and the friendship.

 

MS JEN- You were definitely one of my favorite profs in psych, and it sucked that I didn’t get you in my other psych classes, but I had fun in INPSYCO and BIOPSYC.  Thank you for all the shifting advice and all those times you replied and answered my questions even if you didn’t really have to. :P

 

TRIXIE- AHA! Malamang andito ka—mentor ata kita e. THANKS for everything—grabe, I really don’t know how you do it—how do you? Ang tapang mo—I only wish I was as outspoken and as willing to speak my mind as you. Edi sana, hindi nako stressed. HAHA. Thank you for helping me out of those tight spots—sa advice, and for taking matters into your own hands. I swear, pwede ka nang maglawyer sa mga api. :P I enjoyed all the funfunfun stuff we did, and all the sneaky stuff we did, too. Haha. Thank you for all the help, and for sharing all those stories with me—I think we talked so much about random stuff in Tredfor (oops, di nakikinig). Sa uulitin! See you next term!

 

KAREN- I don’t think we were ever really super-kaduper close, but thank you for the kindness. I saw—and I admired your perseverance and patience with the things you do. See you next term!

 

JOSH-I don’t even need to say anything! Haha. Tsk. Josh, sorry about all the regrets we had this term and last term. I really regret the fact that I wasn’t able to make better decisions, but all the same, I enjoyed your company a lot. Thank you for being one cool therapist—I consider myself lucky to have picked your slip of paper in CLINPSY. I will never forget your journal of quotable quotes (Co, 2008) and all those sleepless nights we spent over QUANRES. Having you around made it so much easier. Thanks for being a friend! 

 

JOVI- You’re brighter than a sunny summer day. Thank you for the smiles, the stories, the pictures, the short-lived lunch dates, and hellos whenever we pass by each other in the hallways. I MISS YOU.

 

MS SANGIL- Thanks for helping me appreciate literature, and pop fiction, for that matter, even more. You motivated me to start writing again! I always felt a flush of pride whenever I did well in your class, and it made me want to work even harder. I felt that the Dan Brown class was too short for my liking… (ahem). So please, please, please let me sit in at your Potter class! I’m willing to sit on the floor, and I’ll be there every meeting, I promise! 

 

SIR JAVIER- I will never forget those heart-stopping moments that happened all the time in your class. I can still remember DEVPSYC and EXPSYC in full detail—and how you practically made me jump out of my seat when you called on me to recite in EXPSYC (which was every meeting, I think). You terrified me to bits—but you made me more determined than ever to do well. Talk about fear as the ultimate motivator…but then again, I learned. 

 

REGIFF- There’s but one word to describe you—LAUGHTRIP. But seriously, I had fun in PAPJA, in TREDFOR, and in all those other subjects we had together. I won’t forget THE WORM, and most of all, your happy-go-lucky existence.  Hyper mode on ka ata palagi e. Haha.

 

JUSTIN- Sucgang. *Summa Cum Laude Alert* Happy graduation! Hindi kita makakalimutan—your dedication and hard work is something I truly admire. May mga tao pa palang kagaya mo na 4.0 CGPA. HAHA. Pero seryoso yan, ha. Good luck with law school. As always, I’m sure you’ll do better than excellent, if that were even possible—pero ikaw pa, you make the most seemingly impossible things possible. At yung libro!

 

ALLAN- How can I forget you, next-door neighbor? Haha. Finding out that you lived next door was a weird coincidence. I’ll drop by sometime—summer na eh, I’m definitely coming over!!!

 

MARKIEL- invited ako sa kasal, ha? Haha. Thanks sa pag-answer ng napaka-habang survey. HAHA. Salamat sa lahat ng laughtrip moments and yung puyatan sa INDPSYC! I’m going to miss you both! See you around!

 

SHANDIE- Wala lang! Thanks for everything. Thank you for sharing and sa pagkwento, and for listening as well.

 

RJ- BLACKMAIL, much? Haha. I know, I know. If it wasn’t for TREDFOR and those shootings we wouldn’t have talked much. Haha. And, I now know how to blackmail you. Haha. I shan’t forget! Thanks for sharing. Thanks for listening, and for keeping my secret(s), too! I appreciate it.

 

 XXXXXXXXXX- For the record, I’m not a spy—nor am I a hacker. I don’t log into other people’s personal accounts unless they ask me to. Get your facts straight, please.

 

            College has been one of the toughest parts of the roller coaster ride I’ve been on for the past 19 years. It hasn’t exactly been the best ride—I could say that I struggled a lot on some loops and double loops, and I’ve been wanting to jump off more than once, but I’m still here, and I’m still hanging on. I still feel the wind on my face. The ride hasn’t ended, and its yet to be over. I still have a few more topsy turvy twists and turns to go through before it finally comes to an end, and maybe more people who will come along for the ride (and more to add to this list, perhaps).

 

THANK YOU EVERYONE!

 

P.S.

            Since I’m writing this out of the blue, I might have forgotten to include some people. If I have, I’m sorry, but I’m just writing out the names I keep remembering. Haha.

The First Time.

I looked away and felt my face flush. I wasn’t used to this. My hands felt clammy and sweaty, and for about the hundredth time that day, I wondered how one person could make my heart beat so much faster with just the slightest touch, and how I felt the tingling jolts of electricity whenever my skin made contact with his. I kept stealing glances his way, and I always looked quickly away whenever I caught his eye.

 

I don’t know how long the stolen glances and the shyness went on.  It felt odd and awkward.

 

And at the same time, it felt good.

 

It felt good to feel the tingling sensation, the numbness. And most of all, it felt good to see that even though it seemed that our personalities were worlds apart and all that there was to this budding relationship-if you could call it that-were our obvious differences, his face would always light up with a smile whenever I came out of the room to meet him after class.  

 

We were walking down the halls that were rapidly filling up with students who were just dismissed from their classes. I absentmindedly looked around, smiling tentatively at some people I knew, and some I thought I sort of knew. I quietly listened to him talk about his last class and the pranks that a friend had pulled on their teacher. I smiled and nodded at all the right places, just so he knew that I was listening, but my mind was drifting somewhere else. Not that his stories bored me. I liked listening to his voice. I liked how he said my name, the accent I couldn’t quite place, and everything else about it.

 

“…And then everyone started laughing!” He chuckled. “So what about you?” He asked as he gently took my books from my arms. “What happened in class today?” I shifted my weight from one foot to the other, smiled back and shrugged. I didn’t know what was wrong with my voice. It always felt that way whenever he directed a question my way. I felt my throat dry up and my mind draw a very distinct question mark. Sure, I had a million stories I could tell him. I could tell him about how hard that pop quiz in trig went, but how the resident brain, Jolie, took it all in a stride and finished the whole thing in a flash, and how everyone was teasing her about not having to get it checked since she would obviously get a high grade already anyway. I could probably tell him how the planning for the upcoming classroom competition was going along in Homeroom. But I couldn’t. I felt strangely disoriented and confused, and all I could do was smile dumbly back at him.

 

“It was okay. Nothing special.” I shrugged after a moment of silence, still tongue-tied.

 

Silence.

 

            “I’m going to Kaye’s place today to work on that Physics project, by the way.” I tried again.

 

            “Really? I can walk you there.” We were approaching the school gates. I felt that jolt of electricity again. I looked away and felt my face flush even more. He had taken my hand in his. I was all too aware of everybody staring at us as we walked out the gate, and I was even more aware of how warm his hand was compared to my trembling, ice-cold one. For the nth time that day, I felt disoriented. I tried to concentrate on my feet instead. I listened to his calm breathing. I felt the blood rush to my head.

 

            After we turned the corner to Kaye’s block, he started to whistle tunelessly. “What song is that?” I asked him while trying to keep from laughing.

 

I giggled nervously anyway.

 

“Beats me.” He replied, grinning widely, his face lighting up again.

 

We stopped in front of Kaye’s gate. She had apparently left it open so I could let myself in when I arrived. He gave me my books. I looked at him and he looked back at me as he shoved his hands in his pockets and I heard the merry jingling of the array of coins he was shaking around his pocket.  

 

“So… thanks.”

 

“No problem. Call me when you get home.”

 

“Sure. Bye!” I said as I turned to walk inside.

 

“Uhh…”

 

“What?” I looked at him expectantly.

 

He walked a few steps closer so we were standing face to face. He held out his hand toward me and I thought I had something on my face. I instinctively reached up to wipe whatever dirt was there, and I was only vaguely aware of how his face had suddenly leaned closer to mine. I felt his warm breath on my face as his lips brushed mine.

 

It was over in less than a second, but my lips were tingling long after it happened. It wasn’t a movie-worthy kiss, but it was my first one, and I felt my eyes widen in surprise.

 

He leaned back, smiled at me and waved goodbye as he walked away, whistling tunelessly again while I gaped after him. I stood frozen in place for what felt like hours before I could finally turn and go inside. I closed Kaye’s gate and walked up the steps to her house, my hand absently tracing my lips.

 

The scene kept playing itself over and over. I still couldn’t figure out how exactly it had happened. And I didn’t know if I liked it. All I could think about was how soft his lips were. I tossed and turned in bed. The last time I checked, it was 2 AM. I stared up in the darkness of my room, tracing the shadows on the walls with my eyes.

 

He was definitely a puzzle I couldn’t figure out. All I knew was I liked the way I felt when I was with him. And maybe, just maybe, no matter how wrong it was, I liked the way his lips felt, too. I didn’t just like him; it was definitely more than that. With a sigh, I closed my eyes and drifted off to sleep with a smile on my face.

The Youth: Heroes in their Own Right


“You are important—now, more than ever before.” This was the closing line—and by far the most significant—in the inspirational speech that was given by Cory Aquino to the youth on the 27th of November, 2008 at the Symposium on Heroism that was held in DLSU’s conservatory. Incidentally, aside from celebrating heroism, it was also a day of commemoration for Ninoy Aquino’s 76th birthday, but it was not only his birthday (nor the rumored presence of a celebrity figure) that was of particular significance to the crowd of students and guests that gathered at the said event.

More importantly, the presence of youth role models ranging from Atom Araullo, a youth activist and host, to a girl from Rags2Riches, a business that helps the women of Payatas turn their hand-woven rugs into fashionable bags, an engineering graduate of DLSU who despite his high status continues to conduct leadership seminars for the youth, and finally to Diether Ocampo, a celebrity and the man behind the Kids Foundation was an attempt to open the eyes of the youth to their endless capabilities. They all shared their experiences as part of the younger generation, and I realized that they, in their own ways, in the line of work they chose to do, and in the special projects they engaged in, are actually the modern-day heroes whose heroism we so often overlook.

Despite and in spite of the limitations that being part of the youth sector brings, the guests still believe that the youth—especially their combined determination and strength in various avenues such as those as simple as in exercising their right to vote—is the most powerful tool towards the nation’s advancement and mobilization. Furthermore, the inspirational speech given by former Pres. Cory Aquino also made me realize that we are indeed important. It is the youth who will take responsibility for the tomorrows that will come, it is US who will inherit our beloved country, and inevitably, it is us who must take the necessary steps for change (the change that we so greatly desire) to take place.

In particular, I was struck with the girl who related her experiences as part of Rags2Riches. While Rags2Riches on its own as a business that was aimed at helping the women of Payatas turn trash to treasure could already be seen as possessing heroic ideals (one that was aimed at helping the poor advance), the girl’s experience to me even before she joined the Rags2Riches group was by far the most interesting and of the greatest significance. First of all, she herself was a product of a very poor family, but she was able to put herself through school—a top-rating university (ADMU), no less—and yet, with all the opportunities that were suddenly made available to her, and the assurance of a brighter future for herself and her family because of the successes she had achieved while in college, she still chose to join an organization which, according to her, was not exactly high-paying. While many would probably wonder why she gave up the myriad of possibilities that were at her fingertips, I understood completely—it was the fulfillment that only the knowledge of having made a difference could bring—it was that, and not the high salary that was of the utmost important for someone as idealistic as the youth.

Each personality showed that being a hero is not merely confined to acts of national or international significance. Instead, as was emphasized all throughout the symposium, we are all capable of being heroes in our own ways and in our own chosen fields—for it is in the smallest of actions, the courageous baby steps we take, that we truly begin the path toward heroism. For heroism is not limited solely to the acts of grandeur that had been previously done by national heroes and historic figures of our colorful past (Ninoy Aquino included)—being a hero is in ALL OF US.

In relation to a previous lesson in Philope, I think that it is the idealism of the youth that makes them truly engage in an I-thou relationship (in Buber’s terms) with the other. For it is the concern and desire for change not only for the benefit of themselves, but for the other as well, that constitutes the youth’s idealistic beliefs and desires for fulfillment. It is through this idealism that we truly treat the other as a subject. We learn not to step on other people and not to be limited to an “every man for himself” way of life. Instead, we dream of change and we help the other achieve such changes (just as the girl gave her services to Rags2Riches and helped the Payatas women achieve a change in their lives), for it is through helping the other achieve such changes that we ourselves feel truly changed. More importantly, it is through the youth’s idealism that they learn to envision the possibilities and their capabilities for greatness. It is through idealism that they truly learn to be heroes in their own right.


Admittedly, the film The Pianist really caught me by surprise. While I am currently enrolled in an Introduction to Global Society course and have previously studied the events of World War II in full detail, nothing could have prepared me for the brutal, cruel, bloody picture this film portrayed. In relation to this, I found a number of philosophers’ thoughts and ideas relevant to some of the scenes that still remain vividly in my mind.

 

            First, Martin Buber’s philosophy of the self and the other is described in terms of the I-Thou relationship and the I-It relationship. Whereas the I-Thou relationship recognizes the other as a being in relation to the self, the I-It relationship is the opposite. The self views the other as a mere object, and not as a fellow subject, one that has the sole purpose of merely serving his interests.

 

In relation to Buber’s philosophy, it is evident all throughout the film that the Germans had an I-It relationship with the Jews in Poland. The Germans, with their feelings of superiority over the other races saw people different from them, particularly the Jews, as belonging to a subhuman species. They segregated the Jews and put up walls barricading and separating the Jews from the non-Jews. Many of them were killed and were made to experience an extreme brand of brutality and cruelty. They were left to live a dehumanizing way of life, that of starvation, poverty and slavery. The Jews lived only for the purpose of serving the Nazi Germans’ interests. They were made to dance and make fools of themselves to entertain the Nazis, to offer their services as laborers against their will, and perhaps the cruelest act of all and one I consider most dehumanizing and has the least regard for life, the Jews were shot at random and tortured because the Nazis were “celebrating New Year,” or they just simply felt like doing so.  

 

On the other hand, Buber’s I-thou relationship can be seen in the ‘friendship’ Wlady established with the German officer who helped him and gave him food when he was in hiding as a fugitive after a particularly massive breakout of war in the area. Instead of seeing Wlady as a subhuman Jew, the officer saw him as a subject as well and consequently treated him better than any other Nazi would have. The Nazi, upon hearing Wlady play the piano seemed to realize that there was something beyond his physical appearance (his being a Jew). The music Wlady played seemed to touch the officer and removed all traces of judgment and discrimination he may have had against him (demonstration the imagining the real). In the same manner, when the Russians arrived in Poland to drive out the Germans and the officer himself became a prisoner, Wlady felt that it was his turn to help the officer out. And although he was no longer able to find the officer, the fact that he was willing to return the favor showed the existence of a subject-to-subject relationship between Wlady and the Nazi officer.

 

Other aspects of Buber’s philosophy can also be seen in the film. For instance, the notion of Propaganda is evident as the Nazis who invaded Poland were so intent on imposing their views, ideologies and beliefs on the people. Their belief that the Jews were a subhuman race was an ideology that was relatively new to the people and in order to impose this as truth, the Nazis resorted to violence and force, showing the people through their cruel treatment of the Jews that indeed, they were an inferior race. Aside from harsh punishments, the Jews were also separated from the non-Jews by wearing armbands that served as a means of identifying them and labeling (a show of reductionist thinking) them as different from the other races.

 

Meanwhile, Gabriel Marcel’s primary reflection is evident while Wlady was merely a spectator of the revolution that was ongoing along the ghetto wall between the Jews and the Nazis. Everyday he watched from his apartment window with no emotion as numbers of Jews were killed while attempting to revolt against the Germans. He is detached from the experience because of his prior escape from life behind the ghetto wall.

The secondary reflection is evident when Wlady was nearly caught by the Nazis who were starting to knock on apartment doors in search of fugitives. Here he was no longer watching the prosecution of his fellow Jews—he himself was in danger of being prosecuted. This fear he felt is no longer vicarious—he himself is caught in the eye of the storm—the danger and fear he feels is no longer for other Jews as he watches them engage in war, but the feeling of fear for his life is in danger.

 

Finally, Emmanuel Levinas’ notion of surprise is evident while Wlady is yet again watching the Jewish-German wars happening outside his window. He soon realized, with pangs of guilt, that he should be a part of that war. He expressed his thoughts, saying that he should have been “in there, fighting with them,” as he had escaped from his Jewish life and was free and relatively safe watching from the window of his apartment while his people were caught in the middle of a revolt that could end in their deaths.

 

            These three philosophers’ ideas were indeed relevant to The Pianist. They presented a clear picture of how the self in relation to others, whether seeing the other as a subject or an object, whether detached from the experience or completely engaged in it, and whether or not they realize whether the freedom they have gained have been used in shameful means, is evident all throughout the film.

 

           

THE TALK :]


Last Friday [Oct 17, 2008], I attended a talk on transexualism in Yuchengco. The speaker was Ms. Brenda, who was a transexual working for HSBC as part of their human resource dept. as well as a practicing psychologist.

According to her, not a lot of companies would be willing to hire a transexual, and she was very lucky to be able to attain her position today. I don't know much about it, but the talk opened my eyes to what's going on in society. Although I have to admit that we are all starting to open our eyes to the reality that not everything is black and white, there's still a lot more we need to learn, a lot more we need to see. Perhaps in time, transexuals, and everybody else considered different from the norm will be accepted and given equal status in our society.

DSC02204.jpg picture by bluetwink

you. yeah, you.


The world doesn't revolve around you.
It's not always all about you.
So stop acting like it is.

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The Ride of My Life.

          Is life worth living? I’ve always wondered about this myself. Life, it seems to me, has always been one big mystery. It has always been one never-ending roller coaster ride—a series of ups and downs and unexpected twists and turns, and occasionally, that heart-stopping giant loop in between that leaves you breathless and screaming your lungs out, either out of pure terror or utmost exhilaration. It hardly ever goes the way you expect it to, nor does it go the way you want it to.
 
          I do a lot of thinking, and yes, I have often contemplated whether death is a better alternative to life. I have thought a lot about what it means to be alive and despite the times that ending everything seems so much easier, I find myself leaning more towards living than the abrupt ending that death brings. Surely, death seems to be the easy escape—the fastest route out of a problem, the way to end pain without having to think so much about it. But really, what happens after death? Will we ever get another shot at life? Will there be something better in store for us, or will there be nothing but numbness and loss of feeling? If it is about numbness, is it really better to be devoid of all feeling and emotion, to be numb to all the pain, but also no longer be able to experience what it means to smile, to love, to be happy? Nobody really knows what death is all about, and no one will ever know until we get there. Death is one great unknown, and there is no certainty if death will free us from the suffering we are going through, or if it will only intensify the pain.
 
          Life may be miserable at times, and it may be hard to keep on going, but perhaps what makes it all worth it is waking up to a new day and knowing that there’s so much more I can get out of life—that there’s always something new to experience, and knowing that these experiences will change me in more ways than one, whether these new experiences be good or bad, life-altering or simply something new to think about. That’s what makes life worth living through.
 
          Sure, virtually everyone makes mistakes, but if we really stop and think about it, it is through these mistakes that we learn what’s right. The mistakes are a part of what we are; they help to make us better persons. Everyone goes through challenges—the twists and turns of this roller coaster ride, and that loop that has the potential to turn one’s world upside down and more often than not, these things leave one at an all-time low, but as cliché as it may sound; they say that when you’re down in the dumps, there’s nowhere else to go but up, right? These challenges come for a reason, one that may not even be clear at the moment.  Life isn’t only worth living during the good times. Sometimes, it’s more worthwhile during the bad, simply because you learn to be a better person, to forgive, to accept failure, and to see that life isn’t always about being the best, or being perfect—it’s about striving for perfection and yet learning to accept our imperfections because our imperfections are what makes us human. After all, how can you experience the good times without knowing firsthand what exactly the ‘bad’ is? There are a lot of things that are beyond our control, and sometimes all that’s left to do is wait out the raging storm because there will always be another tomorrow that has the potential to be a brighter day compared to the doom and gloom of yesterday.
 
          Whenever the thought that life isn’t worth it comes to my mind, another thought that often comes to mind is about the people who need me most, the ones I care about most, and those who care about me. I am often bothered when I think about the pain that I am capable of causing them. Perhaps another reason why life is worth it and why I continue living is because I feel a sense of responsibility for others, especially my loved ones. I see life as a gift, not only to myself, but to others as well. In helping out, being there to listen, sharing a smile or a few tears, I am able to share myself with others, and I find contentment and satisfaction in seeing people I care deeply about smile, feel loved and be comforted.
 
However, there are times that I feel that this ‘responsibility’ places certain limitations and barriers on the way I live my life and my freedom to live it as I please. I can’t be free to act out my whims because I always have to think about other people and consider their feelings before doing anything, and isn’t life supposed to be all about being free to make my own decisions and choices?  
 
At the end of the day, however, I know that I can never be able to make decisions based on myself alone. I can never be that selfish, and I will always feel the need to think about others. And it is in being this gift to others, no matter how small a gift I may be, yet knowing that in some way I am needed, that I matter, and that I have a purpose in this world, I am able to see how life can actually be worth it after all.
 
          I’m on this roller coaster ride, and I’m determined to ride it through the end. I’m ready to face whatever twists and turns, or even loops lie ahead of me. With each day that I live, I am changed. I am never the same person I was the day before, and it is through these changes, no matter how small or subtle they may be, that I find worth in the life I live.

I never had it easy, but then again, who does?
 
 
 
 
 

Swing, Swing.


“I’m fine,” I said for the nth time. I looked into those warm brown eyes. “Really, I am.” I stood up and smiled my widest smile. I knew deep down it wasn’t really true, and she knew it too, but I said it anyway. It was Thursday, and there was another excuse, a lamer one at that.
 
“It’s not like we agreed that we’d spend each and every Thursday together, right?” I said lamely.
 
Those brown eyes took on a look of disbelief. She knew just as well as I did that ever since Mike and I went off to different schools, we hardly ever got to see each other. It was agreed that Thursdays would be reserved for the two of us, and nothing else—as much as possible, anyway.
 
It worked for a while—until the excuses started to pile up. At first the excuses seemed real—a school project, a report, a family event but then again, there were some pretty lame ones. Something about the car being at the shop for three weeks in a row when all that needed fixing was a tiny dent on the fender.
 
Today was one of those dent-in-the-fender-car-in-the-shop excuses.
 
“Why do you put up with this?” She asked, clearly exasperated. It was the same question my best friend asked me all the time. It was the same question she asked me the Thursday before today, and the other one before that..
 
“Love, maybe? I don’t really know.” I half-whispered as I turned to face her. The truth is, I’m just as confused as she is. Maybe even more.
 
I reached over and grabbed the small framed photograph on top of my desk. The picture was taken a few years ago during a movie marathon party. The guy and the girl in the picture were engaged in a tickling match, completely oblivious to the camera. The guy was laughing, while the girl had her tongue stuck out at him. I stared down at the picture and tried to remember how everything used to be—how he used to be that guy, and how I used to be that girl.
 
I couldn’t.
 
It didn’t seem that long ago, but somehow, it was.
 
Three years and counting. Nah, scratch that, maybe it was just three years. And then everything changed. There were no more flowers. Sweet nothings became—well, they became nothing more than words whispered flatly and without emotion. I sighed loudly, collapsed on my bed and stared up at my glow-in-the-dark-star-studded ceiling. Thinking bitterly of how Mike had surprised me on our first anniversary by making that star-studded ceiling I had described to him back when we first met, and how touched I was that he remembered (“I always remember what you say Cath. Always have.”), I buried my face on my pillow and let the tears fall silently.
 
“You know, Cath, guys are very different from girls. They don’t like being the ones to end a bad relationship. They’d rather ignore it and wait for that time when girls end it themselves. That way, they get out clean, unscathed, not to be blamed,” Ted said in a know-it-all tone Saturday morning after I told him what’s been going on between me and Mike.
 
“Hold on,” I held up my hand. “Do you mean to say, that by fooling around behind a girl’s back—by making up all those lame excuses—no, don’t interrupt me—I cut Ted off even before he got the words out of his mouth—they actually think they’re getting out of this C-L-E-A-N clean??”
 
“That’s just the way guys are. It may be hard for you to understand, but…” Ted trailed off and shrugged helplessly.
 
“Whatever. It doesn’t matter how hard it is to understand guys. There’s only one guy I want to understand.”
 
“Then maybe it’s time you talk to him. He owes it to you—and to himself. You both need to understand what’s been going on. He can’t keep running away from this.” Ted finally said after what seemed like forever and gave me a hug.
 
I hugged Ted back, blinking back tears. I knew that we both couldn’t avoid that talk forever. What Ted said, though quite bluntly, was the truth, the reality check I needed to see things in perspective. I was desperate to understand and Mike—well, maybe Mike needed to tell me exactly how he felt, no matter how much he wanted to keep me from getting hurt. I didn’t know when that talk will be, but it had to be soon.
 
Apparently, Mike thought so, too.
 
I sat staring off into space (an activity I seemed to be doing more and more often lately) in the living room when I heard the doorbell ring. I glanced at the hallway in annoyance, and decided to completely ignore whoever it was outside, thinking that it was probably just some door-to-door salesman.
 
The “salesman” was quite insistent, however, and continued to ring the doorbell. As if this wasn’t enough, sharp taps on the door indicated that he had started to pound his fist on the door, too.
 
I ran toward the hall and opened the door. “I’m sorry, but whatever it is you’re selling, I’m not—” I stopped when I saw who was standing in front of me and clamped my mouth shut.
 
“Hey Cath. How’ve you been?” Mike asked shyly, looking down at his worn sneakers as he blushed furiously.
 
“How would you know? We haven’t seen each other in weeks.” I said without emotion as I folded my arms across my chest and leaned against the door frame.
 
“I’m sorry, I just…” He trailed off.
 
“You just what? Think that you’re better off without me so you decide to take off without even telling me anything?” I replied, still without emotion, though my heart was beating so loudly I was surprised he didn’t hear it.
 
“I didn’t know how to tell you, ok? We’ve had this problem for months, Cath. I’m sure you felt it, too. I couldn’t talk to you anymore. I’m not blaming you, I know you probably felt the same way whenever you tried to talk to me. I just didn’t know why, after three years, why our relationship suddenly got awkward. I was so confused…” He threw up his hands in frustration, a look of confusion and anger across his handsome features.
 
“You should’ve told me. I tried bringing this up with you so many times, Mike. But you kept pushing me away—you kept pushing the ‘us’ away. I tried to fix things, but you were so intent for it to not work out.” The tears were falling freely now and I stared blindly at Mike who seemed to be at a loss of words.
 
“I wanted it to work. I was just so afraid of the possibility that we were falling out of love, Cath. I didn’t want to face it so I tried ignoring it. I didn’t want you to look at me and tell me it’s over.”
 
I looked at Mike and saw the hurt written on his face. I knew, somehow, that he was telling the truth, that this wasn’t just some flimsy, made-up excuse he was giving to get out of a tight spot.
 
“I still love you, you know. I always have, and I always will.” I whispered.
 
“I know that, and I do, too, but it’s different now, isn’t it? It’s not the same anymore. Maybe we could’ve fixed things if I didn’t just ignore our problem and I’m sorry that I didn’t try.”
 
“I know. Things are different, and I’m sorry too.” I smiled sadly. “I guess it’s too late now for what-ifs. We did what we thought was right at the time. And I have no regrets. The three years we spent together was the happiest I’ve ever been, Mike. I can’t pretend that it wasn’t. You were the most sensitive guy I ever went out with. You still are. But we’re still so young. There’s so much more ahead of us. We can’t keep holding on to things that have changed, and we can’t keep blaming each other or ourselves.”
 
Mike opened his mouth, as though about to say something, but, upon weighing what I just said, he seemed to think better of it and closed his mouth again. He looked away.
 
I didn’t know what else to say, I already said all I had to. I waited for him to say something, anything. The silence, it seemed, was so much worse than words of anger, hurt and bitterness.
 
swing, swing.Finally, I heard him take a deep breath. I watched him turn around and walk away with not so much as a backward glance. I knew then, as tears began to blur my vision, that it was over. The three years of blissful, young love had come to an end.
 
With this sudden realization, I slammed the door behind me and ran blindly, not fully aware of where I was going. I ended up at the park, and ignoring the stares I got from the kids who were playing there, I sat down on the swings and let the tears roll down my cheeks.
 
I must’ve been sitting there forever when I felt a hand on my shoulder.
 
“I thought I’d find you here. I saw Mike down the street looking like he lost the lottery.”
 
I looked up into Ted’s eyes and saw his concern.
 
“And,” he added, offering his handkerchief, “judging by the looks of you, I’m guessing it didn’t go pretty well.”
 
“Well, there’s no more us.” I shrugged helplessly, taking the handkerchief he offered. “But, I guess it really was ending, the signs were there. I just kept looking the other way.”
 
“I’m sorry; I don’t really know what to say.” Ted knelt down beside me and opened his arms wide. There was nothing else left to say. All the comfort was there. I collapsed into his arms for the second time that week. In the warmth of his arms and in the comfort of his chest, I felt a sense of calmness wash over me.
 
I looked up at him and he smiled gently down at me, brushing a stray strand of hair from my face with such tenderness I never thought possible. I never noticed how nice Ted’s eyes really were (dark pools of chocolate brown that looked at me with concern and gentle understanding every time) before now.
 
I shook my head at this thought and smiled back at Ted. I didn’t care about the kids who continued to stare at these two “big kids” who took over the swing set. I ignored the giggles that escaped from their lips as I leaned my head back on Ted’s chest and closed my eyes.
 
I knew then that I was going to be alright.