Monday, July 5, 2010

Yesterdays and Tomorrows

Yesterday, I met up with a friend. He was a college friend. He was my gayest college friend. Alright, he IS my gayest friend ever.

His name is Arthur and he almost died last year. Not because of what I have but because of something else. He’s negative. I hope.

When we were in college, Arthur was the guy nobody wanted to hang out with. He was loud. Loud, because one, he’d talk about his boys and their escapades in the college tambayan. He was loud because two, he would wear flaming pink flared pants, garterized and all and tuck his flaming magenta shirt in. You get it, he is the understatement of loudness.

But I think I am a magnet of people who you wouldn’t want to be friends with. So we hung out. He wasn’t my best-est bud, but we did hang out.

One thing I seriously do not like about him was that Arthur was a major parasite. He would ask cigs from every single person in our circle. Arthur would oftentimes borrow money for his bus ticket going home. And this was not because he is poor. He just does not know how to budget, during that time. In fact, their family was fare more well off than mine. His mom just did not trust him with the money. Actually, his mom just didn’t trust him. Period. And that’s what I get from stories he told in passing.

So yesterday, I expected to see a NEW Arthur. More than ten years have passed. When Arthur arrived in the casual diner where we planned to meet, he looked like what I expected him to look like – an older Arthur. And hopefully, a better one.

Arthur almost got sacked, big time. He was part of middle management in the property insurance firm he used to work for, for four years. Arthur had a thriving career. Arthur had the promise of making it to top management. Arthur had big dreams. Until he got sick.

Arthur was bedridden for a month. He cannot walk, cannot talk, cannot even think. But he got better. He got better because his parents, who abandoned him before, took him back.

When the wounds have healed, he went back to work. He tried to bounce back. I know he seriously did. But again, Arthur went back to his partying lifestyle, which has affected his performance at work. Management warned him. Scared, he quit.

He quit without a new job. He quit without savings. AND He quit with FREAKING hospital bills he still needs to pay. Desperate, he tried his luck in the call center industry. Rank and file, taking in calls from Americans, he breezed through training and currently reports to someone who’s a lot younger and lot more junior than him, in terms of management experience.

He was gonna break any moment. During that time he was going back to that I-WAS-a-manager-but-now-I-am-a-call-center-agent mode. I can see that tears were forming at the sides of his tiny eyes. And when he was about to break, he changed the topic and told me about his new boys and new escapades (not again).

But deep in my heart, I knew, Arthur had to do, what he had to do. He had to live. It was human instinct to live. He had to get a job at least. Now he’s earning less than half of what he was getting before. And he feels miserable about that. And so I asked him, who brought you this?

Arthur sighed and he went back to those four weeks last year, when we he was sick, when he was in coma and he couldn’t remember a thing. Arthur went back to the days when he could have gone home and could have been discharged but he didn’t have the money to pay. Arthur went back to YESTERDAY. He just keeps on going back to the past.

I stared at Arthur with a blank face. And I realized, that I may have more yesterdays than tomorrows, at this point. And those ten years Arthur and I didn’t see each other, those yesterdays built me – this tough shield, this unbreakable spirit, this unsinkable desire to still live.

I nod my head sideways in disappointment. He was still the same Arthur. He was the same parasite I had to buy dinner for, so he would meet me. He was the same Arthur who would elevate parasitism to a sosy level by asking “pa-bum ng yosi.” He was the same Arthur who was as broke as a rat. He was the same Arthur whose eyes will sparkle when you start talking about boys and sex. He was the same Arthur I dreaded to see.

After getting the check, we parted ways right outside the diner. As I walked away from him, I paused. I wanted to ask him if he’s got money for the bus. But then I realized, he’s got yesterdays he should have learned from. He’s got yesterdays that should’ve taught him lessons he should know by now. He’s got yesterdays which should make his tomorrows better. And so, I walked on.

He’s a big boy. And for that, he should move on by himself. He shouldn’t be my problem anymore.