On Connections (or lack thereof)

I was having my second beer for the night and I was feeling trippy. I wasn’t supposed to be at a rooftop bar on the eve of a morning flight but I couldn’t easily turn down an invite. I may be busy sometimes, but never too busy to grab a drink or a meal.

I was out with a friend I don’t see as often as before. It’s been months since we both decided to leave our jobs as business reporters and while we took different paths, somehow, the things we do in our current jobs have undeniable similarities – speeches, administrative stuff, events, presentations, meetings. Unlike before when we had our “support system” in the person of other reporters, we are now both part of small teams of four to five.

Our conversation easily shifted from adaptation to these changes to the connections we had in the past, how it was so easy to bare yourself to people who understand you somehow – who share the same angst, sentiments, or mostly, craziness. We used to do the a lot of talking and sharing with our friends.

I told him about uncertainties and the unsettling feeling that I no longer belong whenever I go out with friends from our old job. After all, it takes effort to understand the life you are no longer living  when you haven’t been in touch for quite a while, especially when people have moved on without you.

I realized that hugs turned into casual hellos; heart-to-heart conversions turned into polite how-are-yous. How do we get back? Well, there’s no turning back.

Now,  both of us are spending most of our days with people not directly involved in our new careers.

It was always challenging for me to enter a new environment since my anti-social persona always kicks in first. There are only a few people to whom I feel easily comfortable with and nearly five months into this job made me realize that not one soul here knows me beyond my name. But that isn’t so bad, is it?

Claire, you are too secretive,” said my immediate superior after I told her I have to go early that day. She asked me who I was meeting, I told her “a friend.”

My boss, nice and warm as she is, thinks I don’t speak so much about my personal life. She knows stuff about other workmates – their families, people they’re dating, their next vacation destinations. I know quite a lot about her, too, because she’s a big talker. But to her – and probably most of the people in the office, I’m someone who barely speaks out. This doesn’t bode well, by the way, with my role in the company since I’m supposed to talk a lot – which I do when it’s about work. But on the personal side, I think I still have a lot of work to do.

My friend told me he feels the same way sometimes. I thought to myself that maybe it wasn’t an obligation to let people see what’s behind the walls I’ve created to protect myself from getting too attached to things that might not last.

After a few beers and unfinished fritters, we called it a night.

What I didn’t tell my friend that night was that I was happy that despite everything —  the changes, misunderstandings, our differences – we still have this connection, we can still talk about the past, the present, and the future. More importantly, I can still trust him without him even trying to gain it.

And another thing I didn’t tell him? I actually miss having friends at work and capping every stressful day with their company. Well, I couldn’t be luckier to have a core group that fills up the gaps every freakin’ time – always available. So I’m still blessed.

Anyway. The next day’s flight was a trip with people I used to work with in the past three years and my boss said “your personality comes out when you’re with them.” Before I started acting defensive, I realized how I easily connect to them — the people from my former beat. Well, that’s a three-year process, and I was not even with my closest friends then! She should totally see me with my breakfast and coffee buddies, or Team Bilibid.

I realized that while I may no longer feel the connection, with a little digging, I can still find them. After all, I’m not the kind that easily detaches from anything or anyone. And as for the new people in my life, I really have to work on ~connecting.

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