I Hope You Dance

June 29, 2009 at 3:53 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments
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My sweater is no match to Baguio’s cold early evening air. I sit on a chair among a dozen tables dotting the ampitheater, watching one of my best friends take her first steps as the newest missus on the land. E. looks splendid dancing with R., wearing a deep blue evening dress and a flower on her hair. The wedding, of which I am man of honor, was a close, intimate affair of about a hundred friends and families attending the ceremonies and another hundred merry-makers at the open-air reception.

There is food, plenty of it, on a buffet table with a long line of guests chatting with their plates at hand and their voices racing past each other in confusing speeds. There is music, there is Noel Cabangon and Cookie Chua singing love songs, and pairs of men and women with their feet on the floor of the makeshift wooden stage and their affections on each other’s shoulders for the rest to see.

I press my sweater closer to my chest and try to ignore the creeping cold on my skin, but it is no use. It is December, and it is Baguio, to unexpect the cold is to disbelieve the obvious.

I sat there and thought back to about a year earlier, when my other best friend I., invites me to hang out to break a groundbreaking news. She was expecting a baby. Over the next few months I saw her go through the process of pregnancy – the ballooning belly, the budget woes, the apartment hunting, the baby registry — the adustments that one had to make when making space for a plus one.

As I watched E and R dance their frist dance as a married couple, I remembered how I had missed the birth of I’s baby girl, but would see her later when I would visit her parents’ apartment. She was an adorable little ball of quiet satisfaction when I first met baby A. She had hair that stood on her crown and little fingers that curled to her palm and a little mouth that moved to any sound made around her. And I., well, I was computing the cost of work and law school and family life on all fronts. But when she held Baby A, nothing seemed to matter. She was happy. I remembered the first time I ever saw the newest mother on the land breastfeeding her child. It was a picture of solid joy. And I was the doting first-time godfather.

A godfather, however, who was now in line for beer. I stood up for a glass of alcohol to hopefully keep me warm as the night wind grows colder. And that was when the inviting hands started to beckon me to the dancefloor. I refused, choosing instead to keep my mother company, whom I had brought along to witness the wedding and sightsee the city on this weekend.

As I watched my friends dance, an indescribable feeling took hold of me. Like something wasn’t right. But it wasn’t such a bad feeling as much as it was unsettling.

And then I realized I and E had something in common. They had not just left singlehood, but have upped the stakes on their respective couplehoods. They’ve taken things further into unfamiliar territory. Taken the next steps. Moved on.

I’m completely and honestly happy for my friends. But I felt things were not to be the same.

And yet, if someone asks me how I’m doing, I would just say things are the same with me. Im still working with a non-profit. Im still not dating anyone. Im still a ladder-step away from complete and utter poverty. Same old me, doing my same old schtick.

And it got me to thinking: when everyone else is moving on, how does one keep from being left behind?

The hands that beckon insist, and I give in. I take the dancefloor, and I take it like I never want to let go. I dance with my friends, and the cold December air starts to feel like it wasn’t even there. I do my moves, and the rhythm takes over and the joy of the moment sinks in and it is a welcome feeling.

And as the next few months would show, some constants remain. Like friendships. No matter where people end up in their own separate journeys, there are things that they will always look back at, and always need.

I., sends me messages every now and then, drops me a visit at the office to hang out, chat a bit, study, and pump her breasts for feeding baby A. E. on the other hand is always in touch and we have not lost our small talks at all, even when she juggles her consultancies, her marriage, her malfunctioning car, and accompanyng R. to his project sites.

My friends may have taken the next step, but as they keep moving on, I’m glad I have stayed the same. Because this way I remain one step behind, always ready to be the friend I had aways been for them.

And so I danced that night, that cold December night when there were no stars in the sky, no new thing happening in my own life. Because new things had happened to my friends, and I realized I shouldn’t be caught sitting around and just watching as they unfolded. I needed to dance around them and with them, because lives in motion are lives worth being a part of.

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