It started with an invitation to eat cake. One moment we were at Xocolat, catching up while I ate my mango yogurt cheesecake and you dived into a plateful of pesto pasta. I would be asking about her, and you would tell me everything since the last time you asked for advice and I didn’t give you any judgments until later. We were at Mamu’s and Papu’s next. Nobody else was there, the place made more dubious in the evening. We were still too early, but not as early as senior year when we went drinking during lunch, just before Theology class where we both sort-of passed out and barely had any notes during the lecture. 6.30pm? Nobody drinks at six-thirty. But it’s a Saturday! 

We get the usual: a bucket of Gilbey’s just like last time, except last time I hadn’t built some kind of extra resistance to alcohol. I get a little buzzed with three bottles; you don’t. But it’s enough for me to tell you my story: the doctor, the recurring feelings from over a year ago that paralyses me, that one day in senior year that I didn’t get to tell you about wherein I felt invisible and it was so real like I existed in a bubble that nobody can see. It sounds so crazy now and I feel so calm telling you everything: that I’m not as depressed before, that the doctor is a good thing, that I just have to learn to live with what happened and accept it and maybe I’ll get the hang of focusing on other things when days are bad. They no longer serve kropek at the bar for free, unlike last time; it’s only been over a year and now they only serve peanuts. I suggest chili chicken wings as pulutan and it’s good: just okay, like life is for us: just okay. One day you will be a chef in Disneyland and I will be happy. 

We talk about anything and everything under the evening sky, clouded without any stars in sight. I would never have let you spend eight hundred bucks over a woman who didn’t deserve it, and I do my best to give sound advice. I’ve swum through rivers of drama before, where flirting and naivety and heartache flowed. I’ve had a little more experience in a way; at least my mistakes have a purpose and I can help you avoid them. I say: things are better now, to be honest. I just have to make those sessions work, and I will hope that you will find a better girl who will treasure your kindness and your thoughtfulness. Maybe another chef you will meet someday who is smart and successful and talented and all the good things. 

We talk about love. I tell you that I care for all you guys: I care for you too, I trust you and I am loyal to you, and I believe that no matter what I do and no matter what happens you will be honest with me and we will all have each other and accept each other and I am at the point wherein you’ve seen so much of me and we’ve done so many things, stupid and all, that I almost teared up just thinking about it. ‘Love’ is such a weird word, which I’m more comfortable with attaching to females and my romantic other, so other words have to suffice to describe how I care about you and our friends. But I know that you know and you understand when I substitute ‘love’ with the adjectives that make us both the best kind of friends. 

Until next time, we say, when we part ways after a long evening walk to McDonald’s, same old fast-food brimming with youth — same-old, same-old. 

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