That night I turned 21.
I used to be a huge fan of birthday surprises, organizing things like that every now and then. My college life was filled with these – birthday cakes, balloons, love letters and presence of somebody’s special someone to spice up the celebrations. It’s a wonder how we were able to pull up tons of surprises even though, every single time, the birthday celebrant already knows that there will be a surprise. But at least the one on the hot seat acts like he or she is actually surprised.
When we kissed college good bye, I thought we’re over this “birthday surprise” thing. While I and friends always get together to celebrate by organizing videoke sessions and simple dinners, there’s always an element of surprise – no matter how small. For instance, when my best friend Gel turned 21, Franz gave her a book and cash to augment an expensive theater ticket, and lo and behold! For a girl who’s really into such things, Gel almost cried.
Four birthdays in college and I got four little surprises from my college friends – with my girlfriends on top of them all. But what happened recently will really stick with me until the end.
This probably was the only birthday surprise that really surprised me because I was totally, absolutely clueless. I went home for the weekend to celebrate my birthday with my family – although in advance since my day fell on a work day. I worked on my Sunday stories, at least a rough draft, on a Friday so that I could spend the whole Saturday outside. So on that Saturday night, off we went to Tagaytay for a simple dinner and post-dinner treat. I originally planned to treat them to some expensive restaurant but I was on a damn tight budget, we ended up on a semi-restaurant, semi-beer joint and a coffee shop.
It was so blissful to be able to spend time with them – those people who make you feel happy all the time, without even exerting much effort. I totally enjoyed it and before I kissed the day goodbye, I tweeted how much I loved that day.
I was about to close my eyes, when I suddenly saw sparkling candles outside my room. The first thought that came to my mind was my mom, doing this little surprise even though it’s not really here thing.
But I was so wrong, and I was so surprised that I ended up crying when my college friends – six of them – entered my room along with a gift wrapped in a newspaper, a number of choco tops with candles on them, and a scrap book. I swear, I thought I was dreaming because it never hit me that they would actually travel all the way from Manila to Cavite at midnight to surprise me. It was so surreal, and so sweet.
Apparently, two of the best people on earth were on top of the surprise – Gel and Franz. And it was so nice, really. I don’t even know how to thank them for all the effort, especially for coming at midnight when everyone knows we all have to leave early the following day. I could only wish I could skip work.
I don’t know how to put this into words but really, I was so happy and feeling oh-so blissful. I know that growing old and growing up suck most of the time, but spending all the crushing moments with them make them more bearable.
Friends, thank you. Thank you for thinking about replacing Poopy, and guess what, I loved that stuffed dog you gave me that I’d bring it to the dorm so that I could use it there. :p Haha. Thank you for the sweetest messages written in that scrapbook, and for the photos that remind me of all our good times, and the happy moments I shared with other circles…. and of course, those remind me of the weight I gained since I started going out with you way back our college days. Thank you for the little surprise, that surprised me big time. Thank you for making me feel special, and loved all the time.
These times are hard for all of us… the growing up thing, the identity crises, the problems that come our innocent ways. But together, we can do this… we can surpass all these challenges… we can be the bosses that we want to be, the achievers that we aim to be.
I love you girls. I love you friends. For everything, thank you. I don’t know why God gave me such a wonderful bunch of people… but I am so glad He did.