...because you thought Sweden was Switzerland!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

KG hits 30! Celebrating with whisky

Scotland 2013

KG and I met in 1996, when we were 12. I was a new student in the girl's school from a co-ed (I didn't like girl's school so much the first year); she was the responsible type girl-school girl (possibly also with a loyalty award for staying in the school since preschool!).

Our friendship revolved a lot around books and Beatles' lyrics. After school when we waited to get fetched by our parents, we would read, sing, or quizzed each other about homework. She was a lot better in math than I was, while I was better in English. She also introduced me to the adolescent craze called boybands, while I pretended to be oldies DJ on the LP player. We both liked black-and-white movies, and Astrud Gilberto, and of course (converted by then to the teen craze), the Backstreet Boys.

Weekends crashing at our houses included watching cable TV or movies (only her family had cable back then, while only my family had Internet) – if there was electricity, that is. This was the 90s in the time of half-day Manila blackouts. No electricity meant Scrabble or Boggle, or playing with her family's dog. I remember just bumming around, talking, sometimes with her or my sisters, under their carport or on our terrace as we waited for our parents to fetch us. Yes, this was Quezon City where parents meant transport anywhere in the city.

After second year high school, when we were 15, she and her family left for New York. There she became a top student in her high school, competed in golf, studied biology, and let her hair down clubbing. I became a more ambitious student than I first was, studied philosophy, found kendo, and probably never set foot in a nightclub in all my study years. From time to time, our contact had been more sporadic, but for years, we've kept in touch through days of dial-up modem, phone cards and snail mail, to the days of Skype (she has no FB) and fibernet. Anyway, the contact was always good enough to keep an eye on what each other was doing — the big and small stuff.

Eventually, she became a naturalized American. She took her master's in public administration; I took my master's in applied ethics, and later in public health. When I decided to move to Sweden, it was natural for me to talk to her about my ambivalence of change of residence, and in the beginning, the feeling of being quite detached from friends. She had been through all that before. I started this blog after a long conversation with her (encouraged by both Marcus and Mats), because blogging is a good way for both me and my friends to share and keep up with things in my life.

Her first trip with her American passport was to Sweden to visit me and Marcus in our 24-square meter apartment (lots of laughs, late nights, thought-provoking conversations and fond memories!). Eventually, but much later, I also became naturalized, as a Swede. She and I also ended up working in higher education, she as a project manager for international scholars like I once was. She went to our wedding; and when Marcus got really sick, she quit smoking (she's back now though, haha!). I visited her the winter after Marcus died. And today, from my point of view, I can relate to her when she talks about anticipating losses ahead of time — and just appreciating life as it is right now — as she discovered last year that she had diabetes.

2007. Documentation of how we three fit in the student apartment (required a little rearrangement of furniture). Me in my famous mummy-sleeping pose, which I just remembered that I had, when I saw this picture. That day, KG made a mean Mexican dinner!

2011. Hanging out once again at her parent's home, but this time in their NY home. If you look closely you'll see my Swedish presents of cheese slicer on the table and Blossa Glögg somewhere the background. Haha. Represent, huh!

So you see, though she and I have differing interests and partly different personalities, we are, at one level, quite the same, she and I. That, and the fact that we can hold all sorts of conversations (and even agree to disagree sometimes!) is what has kept us in touch as friends through all these 15 years across oceans. Imagine all those stories, from joys and boys, to sadness and life's lemons; banter and seriousness; tears and laughter. It's nice to have friends that stick around for all those. Even better when you can travel and create memories with them.

So, to celebrate her 30th birthday, we were in Scotland, where two of the pictures in this entry were taken. Our adventure was a test of teamwork and tolerance (in left-side driving!) and a proof that "in taste there is no dispute" (in whisky preference!). It was also the first time ever a bar actually closed on us (in the countryside, at 11pm!). In short, a memorable trip with great company and some of the most stunning driving sceneries. If I had a whisky in hand, I would toast to that. Now I have to go publish this entry and get myself a drink from the kitchen. Cheers!



Post a Comment

<< Home

<<< Browse older posts (via sidebar list)