So, I just turned 22 forty-one days ago. And what have I been doing ever since? Constantly listening to Sitti Bossa Nova songs, craving for more Korean and Thai movies, sitting at my desk, staring at my notebook, being amazed by my brand new phone (my dream phone, that is), and I felt that I am still mesmerized by February 19, 2012.
It felt like I’m still on a high, celebrating, shouting to the whole world that it’s my birthday (even though I have intentionally removed my birthday notification at Facebook just to see how many friends would remember without FB on the lookout—it turned out there were only 11 out of 974).
Well, you see, I never really did this before. Like genuinely saying NEVER. I was kind of having personal issues when it comes to my birthday. Like it wasn’t supposed to be a happy occasion. That every February 19 is doom’s day. Or that even February is a kismet part of the year. So I never really wanted anybody to know it’s the day I was born. That in the year 1990, some unwanted child was born into this anticlimactic world. Even though some people have to know it, or some would really boom the fact in my face, I would certainly deny. But everything seemed to change the moment I reached my 22nd level. Not on my 16th. Nor on my 18th or 20th. It came three days after my 22nd.
Or rather cupcakes that formed a star—the best shape in my world. It was the 22nd of the love month—one fine day, another day of tedious work. I’ve been 22 for three days. And so far, it manifests the vibrant life I will have this year, ever so slowly.
Lots of legwork here and there, meetings everywhere. And every time I go outside the office just to have a breath of fresh air, I always have that certain kind of nostalgia…seeing the same kiosks, the same faces, the same buildings, the same bricks, the same trees…for 16 long years. I made my first step into this academic institution when I was four. And now, I am 22. Yes. I’m starting to feel and see things in a rut. A good rut, if there’s such a thing.
At two o’clock, Kuya Alex agreed to come with me (or rather I agreed to come with him) and visit certain offices for the endorsement of an upcoming activity. The whole “legworks” and “meetings” were not out of the usual. Though I had this brief moment when I found our “legwork” a bit odd. He didn’t really have to go that far, he’s the coordinator after all, a busy bee, someone who has a lot going on his line. But since I appreciated the gesture, I just brushed the notion aside. Honestly speaking, I really had no touch of suspicion with it. Until we went back to the office, and there was “an emergency meeting”.
I was knocking. And knocking. And knocking. I couldn’t quite read Kuya Alex’s facial expression. So I just shrugged it off. Mayo came out of the door, trying not to open it so wide. I was quite alarmed, having notions that something big had happened. Until Mayo desperately covered my eyes and pushed me into the office.
Round celebration at the round table
Quiet giggles covered the dark surroundings. I was quite paranoid since I was so caught off guard. For the first ten seconds, I couldn’t figure out what was going on. And then Mayo raised his hands off me. And all I could see are small, blurred, silhouettes and cupcakes at the round table. My mind was swirling. Honestly speaking, at the first, say, three seconds of that happening, I had no idea what was going on. And then Ate Cellyn sang the loudest version of the Birthday song.
It was a birthday surprise, for Pete’s sake! LOL. I can’t stop LOLing after I realized that that moment was meant for me. It’s my time. My moment to remember. My day. On a bigger scheme, it felt like my officemates and some volunteers gave me back my day. It was as if I have lost it for quite some time now. Ate She, Ate Raq, Ate Cellyn, Kuya Mark, Kuya Alex, Mayo, Kuya Rector, Kevin, Sol, and Maine were all there, singing that out-of-tune Birthday song.
It was for meant for me. It was MEANT for ME to be HAPPY. It was my Happy Birthday. And they have given it back to me. Through an emergency round table meeting, through a covering-the-eyes-by-the-office-heartthrob (cough!) effect, through the 22 cupcakes forming a huge star over the round office table and 22 candles shining like twinkling stars on earth, through three bowls of mixed nuts, through ear-splitting laughter and noises, through one crumpled bond paper with a “HAPPY BIRTHDAY JO! CHEETAH!” printed on it, and through one eye-splitting, butterflies-in-the-stomach, ear-to-ear grin, heart-skipping-a-beat present.
Be careful what you wish for
I remember Kuya Rector telling me that after almost 22 minutes of loud kulitans have subsided. Never did I wonder that that line would be applicable for me just a very brief moment after that. What was my wish? I only wished to see a real star located at the fourth floor of our building (LRC Building). And then, the door opened and everybody has become suddenly still.
I wouldn’t dare divulge any information that would give you any idea who that “star” is. Every single thing is at stake, for Pete’s sake.
So, for Pete’s sake, I’d rather reminisce the last few moments after that “important meeting kunuhay” that the director of the office has called herself, just to discuss “some very important matters kunuhay”.
They gave him a cupcake. And then he was trying to bite the cupcake. And then, he slowly went for the door. Then, ever so slowly, walked the very few steps towards the exit. He was outside. He closed the door. Then, everybody went hysteric all over again.
Okay. So they “actually” did that embarrassing thing in high school when your barkada would repeatedly mention your name while your crush is within the vicinity. So, I was like, looking for a closed spot where I could “somehow” ventilate amidst the continuous heart-throbbing condition I was experiencing back then. I was in the how-can-you-do-this-to-me shrieking whisper mode at Mayo’s place since MY table was directly BESIDE the director’s cubicle where the “very important meeting” was held. Can you spell d-y-a-h-e?!? One big CHEETAH for that. LOL.
But one thing that I couldn’t really forget is their gift of meaning to me. My SACSI Staff SY 2011-2012 family has given me back something that I have lost many years ago. And that is the gift of meaning, or in the local language—KAHULUGAN. That, based from what my second year high school class moderator, Fr. Jason Dy, SJ, has said, kaHULUGan is when all things fall into places. I have, for quite some time, lost the meaning of a lot things—of tears, of smiles, of fears, of sadness, of happiness, of mornings, of nights, of love, and of life. And my SACSI family has given me back the gift of meaning. I have once again seen the meaning of that seeing-your-crush-on-your-birthday gesture, of that covering-the-eyes-by-the-office-heartthrob (cough!) effect, of that laughing-out-loud mode even though it’s office hours and we have kapitbahays, of that crumpled bond paper now bearing handwritten greetings by these people, of that sunny Wednesday afternoon, of that February 22, of my February 19, and of my Happy Birthday.
I am now 22 years young. And I will never forget that birthdays will always be a happy occasion for all of has who are given the gift of meaning, of love, and of life… forever and ever… peksman.
|chee·tah (plural chee·tahs or chee·tah) noun: is actually my spur-of-the-moment verbal expression; every time I couldn’t think of an appropriate word to utter but felt like I had to say something, I say chee•tah.|