Setting aside some time for our friends

(Sept 12, 2020)
Alvin and I were classmates in a marine science course in college. We were not coursemates — I was a Biology major, and he was an Education major specializing in Biology. We were five seats apart in the class, so we had a low chance of talking to one another. One day, I approached him because of the shirt he was wearing. Printed on the shirt was the name of a youth organization familiar to me. We talked about the people I knew in that organization. Since then, our small talks became more frequent.

Photo by Icons8 Team on Unsplash

I could still recall that moment with him in a Krispy Kreme store during a bus stop in our fieldwork. That sharing of life stories and honey-glazed donuts would be the start of our friendship. The next semester, we were classmates again in a field subject. We were the type of students who would always sit at the back. Sometimes, we would listen to the lecture; most of the time, I would just take a nap.

One night in our fieldwork in ecology, when we were assigned to sampling, I unintentionally made a mistake. The facilitator warned us to keep it within our group because our professor would get upset about it. Alvin just remained silent. I was embarrassed. I bet you do not want to look mediocre to your friend. However, I immediately reported to our professor when we returned to the camp, and everyone got surprised.

When almost everyone in the class was hanging out, I and Alvin isolated ourselves. We stayed at the view deck overseeing the night light in the Subic bay port and hearing the constant ambient noise from the crickets.

“You know what Vincent, I’m proud of what you did a while ago.”

“Woah. Thanks, man. I mean that must be the right thing to do.”

Our classmates were starting on their drinks, but we chose not to participate. We continued sharing random stuff.

Those were the early days of our friendship. While I am writing this, I get to realize that we have more differences than similarities. He is currently taking up his master’s degree in marine science while I am in my second year in med-school. He is sporty and I am not. Maybe we share the same sense of humor but of course, our friendship transcends above those things. I admittedly like our low-maintenance friendship. Post-college and pre-pandemic days, we would try our best for our regular catch-ups. When we fail to come up with a common schedule, understanding comes in.

Last week, we talked over the phone for hours. It was one of the occasions where we get to talk about the things we just want to talk about — no filters and masks, just pure transparency and accountability. However, this time, it is through phone call. We also reminisced the course of our friendship over the years. In that night in our fieldwork, he said, “I just realized. Maybe we can consider meeting at least once a month. Both of us would be busy with different things. I want to be more intentional about this friendship.” I could not formulate my response at that time.

All of us know that communication and time are important in our family, circles, and relationships, but taking action matters the most. This pandemic, aside from the random chats and quick check-ins, we coordinate our schedules to intentionally sit down with our challenges and successes. Not only is it an honor to be a friend with a person like him, but meeting him has been such a highlight as he taught me the importance of intentionality in every relationship.

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Vincent Racoma

Vincent Racoma

perspectives | insights

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