Do I start a story with: Once upon a time...?
I started telling stories about my past, the good ones, mostly.
Recently, it was about pre-school. Wow, really! I think I was between four to six years old at that time. It all started when I have unearthed my nursery ID (circa 1992) in one of my boxes. Surprisingly, I am in another country, and it still baffles me how it got into my things when I left Philippines two years ago.
I was told I looked like a Chinese doll as a kid; and according to my Egyptian colleague, I didn't really change much, especially after seeing a photo of a three-year old me in Facebook while I was scanning a book.
Amazingly, I kept track of pre-school classmates and most people in my whole twenty-three years stint on this world. My first best friend, my first enemy (who probably doesn't know I exist now because he refuses to add me in Facebook), my second best friend (because the first one left for another school), the boy who won the elocution contest consecutively, the smart girl who lived near school, and a childhood sweetheart. Unfortunately, I was not able to find the boy who cried after I slapped him in nursery class.
Not that there was anything so special, but I have a memory of an elephant. I remember most things, even my first birthday. It's scary, sometimes.
I was an excellent student during pre-school. Stars on my arms were my daily collection, and ribbons and medals were my annuals. Jayson used to tell me how pre-school was a play school back during his time (he's just two years older, by the way). The had floor mats to sleep on and toys to play with. I have no memories of such when I first started and that doesn't mean that I have forgotten. All I know is that I can already read by the time I was four. It was a classroom, and I'm sure it wasn't a playpen. We had small yellow desks and chairs, a blackboard in front, and a teacher who drew and wrote cats and dogs.
My best friend and I were almost the same height, so she's always standing behind me in the line. She lived a stone's throw away from the school, but our friendship was short-lived because she transferred to another school after kindergarten.
When I was around five, I met a classmate of mine in our neighborhood playground while I was walking with my sister and our nanny. To my shock and utter embarrassment, he screamed I love you to me while he was on top of the slide. Epic fail.
During preparatory, there was boy who was fond of me. I was not fond of anything, so you can guess how I felt whenever he was around. Our teachers knew about it. I never wondered why he always sat either behind me or beside me. In addition to that, our moms talk, sort of friends. It was a bit inevitable. On my seventh birthday, he gave me a heart-shaped jewelry box (and I still use it even after nearly two decades), and on our graduation, he gave me a kiss on the cheek. That was the first one ever.
Not just that, I know all my class adviser's names by heart.
In elementary school, I met my first best friend again during recess. She was in the top section in the whole batch. I wasn't because I was a transferee.
On my first grade until third grade, I was an achiever. Fourth to sixth was a bit rough. The competition was getting harder. I was able to get into the top section on second grade, but I fell a bit behind because practically everyone was good.
In fourth grade, I met my third best friend. She was the last and longest one, and I loved her dearly. I still dream we're best friends, sometimes, but that's only when I'm sleeping. We were together everywhere. We rode mini-roller coasters and octopuses, ate recess and lunch together, played in arcades, spent weekends, attended parties, and sang at recitals together. Then one day, because of a boy, as I have later found out, we fell apart.
I've been called many names, been described by numerous adjectives, and to be honest, not all were good. Some were a bit hard to digest, but hey, that's life. I can't please everyone, not that I want to, anyway.
In high school, I started out well. I talked in English, and I have no idea why, but my teachers liked it, anyway. After sometime, I was getting called to the discipline office because of bad influence friends from outside, and because I was letting people borrow my ID. But I was still at the top of my class. I guess it was just a phase.
There were numerous issues in high school. I was sick most of the time, not that I liked it, and I missed out a lot. When I'm in school, I sleep all the chance I get. On weekends, I am an aspirant in a Carmelite convent, and a leader in a church organization (until college). I have tried out for a CAT post twice, and I always ended up leaving a month or two before I actually finish it. That time, there were only three places you'll likely find me in: the classroom, the CAT office (my sister actually got in), and the clinic. My classmates thought I was a bit weird.
One of the good things, though, was that students read my write-ups in the school paper. I was an editor for Feature and Literary Sections, and I competed in inter-school journalism competitions. I won a few times. I even thought I was going to pursue it, but then again, it was just a phase.
I wanted to be either a psychiatrist or a lawyer, and ended up in hotel management instead. Truth is, naive as I was, I followed a boy whom I was in love with the whole time I was in college. He was my mentor in culinary arts, partner-in-crime, and probably my great love.
A few days ago, a girl (two years younger than me) who came from the same college, told me as a reply to my post (a long awaited trip to Enchanted Kingdom) how she's excited to meet me. Apparently, I was excited to meet her and another friend of hers, too, that I have promised a coffee and EK date already. She explained why to me in these very words, Di kasi tayo nagpapansinan dati.
I wasn't sure how I felt when she told me that. A bit scared, I guess. People always thought of me in different ways.
One time during college, I was standing in front of the bulletin board, secretly trying to take a photo of my name to show my mom when I get home, when a girl who was in a younger batch told me, Ate nag-aaral ka pala. My insides felt funny. It was some sort of compliment, which sounded somehow wrong.
I had a rather wild college life. My friends and I were always drinking. I remember coming to school with drunk or with a bad hangover or without sleep. Sometimes, it was with a broken heart. I wore different shoes everyday, had different bags, wore dangling earrings, and had make-up on my face.I even came to school many times with just a piece of yellow paper and a pen. People must have thought I was dumb blonde minus the blonde hair. I was ok with school. I never studied excessively, but I always made sure I was focused.
So, I told the girl, that it's not that I was a snob. It's just that, maybe, there had been no chance for us to meet and talk. I even joked that if she could have met me before, she might have regretted it realizing that I talked too much. It just made me look forward to actually meet them.
Nowadays, I still like conversations. I've met a million people of different races and culture, and actually had to put up with those that I don't really like. My mom and sister are still playing their parts on my stage. I'm on to my second year of independence. I have a job to feed me, a flat, a car (although it's far away from me), a wonderful person who cares for me, and a new fridge filled with grocery items.
Sometimes, I still think I'm twenty-two. I still dream of reliving my innocence. But even though, I feel older than my age by now, somehow, I guess I have become better.
So, how do I end this story, now?
I bet I still have a few more paragraphs to make after this.