My dear Bagzh,
I wrote this half-sober in our hotel room yesterday. You were sleeping like a newborn, and that’s only after a bottle or two of beer. My original plan was to get you very, very, very wasted on your second to the last evening as a single man, but Abi warned me beforehand to return you alive and in one piece.
She texted me that after she knew our hotel is located at a seedier portion of Makati. I should have told you not to tell her where we would be staying.
First, I’d like you to know that I’ve forgiven you for Myanmar. Remember that time when you asked me what’s so special about U-Bein Bridge? And I just gave you a stare that looked like something between disbelief and disappointment. At that very instant, I realized you never read our itinerary all along. The information was all there my friend. It was all there.
“Promise, gusto ko syang itulak sa lake.” I sent Abi this message in FB that very evening. It was I think my first chat to your then fiance. The gist of her reply basically says that she understands what I’m going through and advised me to persevere in babysitting you until our return to the Philippines.
When we arrived at the GYMN HQ in Quezon City, you probably didn’t notice that I hurriedly left after I freshened up. I was so excited to go back to Cebu but if truth be told, I was so happy to leave you with Abi, the only person in this universe who can tolerate your kind of madness. You are so lucky to have her.
But really and in all honesty, thank you for Myanmar. Both our brief adventures and misadventures have reminded me the blissful art of traveling without an itinerary. This I learned again when you invited me to crash in your house at Lingig in Surigao del Sur early last year.
“What do you want to do there?” you asked. I answered that I only want to sleep and to eat and to do nothing else in between.
I certainly got what I wished for and so much more. I will never forget the sublime gangis (unicorn fish), our long roadtrip to Aliwagwag Falls and finally seeing the places I only heard in your stories back in college – the abandoned paper mill and especially the Acacia tree by the fire station.
I could only wish we traveled more because much to my utter surprise, you’re actually a fun person to be with. And maybe you are one of the lucky few who can endure my kind of madness too.
I will terribly miss your company from now on, including you sleeping over our place, hearing your random whinings over the phone and wearing all the medium-sized shirts I grabbed from your closet. But I comforted myself with the thought that our friendship was never defined by the number of trips, the frequency of phone calls and especially my doomed waistline.
It’s way more than that. Because Bagzh, like the many of your friends and family, you have also been a blessing to me in ways you are not even aware of.
The best part is that you are a ‘low-maintenance friend.’ We may not see or talk to each other all the time but when we do, it just feels like we never left since we bade our goodbyes back at our decrepit dorm in college. Thank you for those 11 years, and it is my prayer that the Lord will allow us adventures in the next decades or so, amidst career changes, marital woes and even when kids come in the picture.
I am also glad you have Abi by your side now. You were about to give up in your year-long courtship to her, but thankfully you didn’t. To paraphrase Samwise Gamgee – “There are some people worth fighting for. And Abi is certainly at the top on your list.”
And having said that, I’d like to end this letter with a toast – “to low-maintenance friendships, to love that is worth fighting for, to Mark and Abi.”