The first essay of PMS: Meditations on the Post-Modern Syndrome was inspired by someone who has, quite arguably, done more to change my life than any other person I’ve met.
I first met Abbey in May 2009 when she was still a permanent resident of Germany visiting Manila briefly. Our friendship, however, didn’t begin in earnest until June 2010 when she returned to the Philippines for an ostensibly longer stay. At that time, she saw herself staying in the country until January 2011. Hence, the opening lines of the essay: She tells me she is leaving for Germany in January . . .
That deadline, stated so emphatically at the very beginning of a friendship, scraped what was still—and likely will remain—a very raw chord. For all that I’ve lived nearly three decades, precious few of my affections date back longer than one. None of my childhood friendships, either at the primary or secondary school level, have endured. I formed a few lasting friendships during my university days, and several from my various careers and interests, but none of these constitute intimacies woven into the daily fabric of my life. I see these friends perhaps once a month, and more typically once a quarter. They live on in the occasional text, in the sporadic email, in the occasional “poke,” in the infrequent invite.
The closest I ever had to a stable, everyday matrix of friends was when I lived in Singapore. There, far away from the support of family and the familiarity of home, I found people who eventually became both family and home. We lived mere blocks away from each other, and frequently stayed over at each other’s flats to cook, eat, drink, gossip, watch TV, read magazines, play the Wii, sing using the magic mike, celebrate birthdays, celebrate holidays, plan vacations, plan vendettas, commiserate over tragedies and make lists of what to get in Manila the next time someone had a business trip (i.e., Ariel, Safeguard, Boy Bawang, Chippy . . . ). For all that the years in Singapore constituted the most frenetic of my life, they were also some of the happiest—and leaving those friendships behind when I returned to the Philippines left an enduring scar.
Hence the first essay of the PMS series, entitled On Friendship, examines the anatomy of that scar. But while that examination is its primary intention, it has another one, less explicit but no less emphatic, which is to acknowledge the people who’ve made the scar worth bearing. St. Teresa of Avila spoke of the wound of love—it’s the only one we should pray should never heal.