“So I want to say something” I started casually.
“What is it?” she muttered while her fingers scanned the iPad for the right shade of blush to plaster on my edited face.
I was about to pour my heart out in this cramped cupcake shop where the youngsters at the other table could easily eavesdrop into my emotional vomit. I didn’t care. Maybe they could use this as material for whatever short film they were shooting. The conversation that was about to happen was golden.
I was seated across from my high school buddy. Admittedly, we aren’t like the people we were five years ago. We were seated inches apart physically but we both knew there were novels that separated us. Still, she was there back when I had my first period, when my head was too big for my body and the Jonas Brothers were the shit. That will always count for something.
“I don’t know. I feel like I don’t belong anywhere.”
She looked at me with eyes that were saying what the hell. It is a crazy thing to say, given that I am in my hometown where my family is. My roots are engraved in every jeepney route I still can’t memorize to this day. The last thing I should feel is awkward and un-belonging.
She asked why I would feel that way and frankly, I didn’t have evidence. There was no person that made me feel unwanted. If anything, people around me have always been kind and interesting.
Had I been the year-ago-me, I would’ve faced the mirror and given myself one of those ‘get your shit together’ pep talks, but I have learned to embrace my sensitivity. I have embraced that I do feel like a factory defect of a puzzle piece and it has been eating at me for a while.
“What do you mean?” she asked.
“I don’t fit anywhere. Don’t get me wrong. The people I know back from college (as if I had already graduated) are still my friends. They’ll always feel comfortable, but it feels like I don’t fit there anymore. And I’m not also quite settled in here. The more that I’m clear with what I want, the more I feel like I don’t fit anywhere.”
I know it’s an unnecessary of feeling. I have a job that I enjoy, I’m more in touch with my art, I talk to my mom and stepdad on a regular basis. Aside from the fact that our house help ran away and I have since become the designated dishwasher, I’m in a good place. I even wrote about it, hoping that once it’s on paper, it will leave my system. But apparently it was still clogged up within me.
‘You know what, Dan, in bacteria…” she started, and I immediately laughed. The last thing I expected was to be compared to a bacteria. But then I let her continue.
“Once a bacteria is introduced to a new environment, it does not immediately multiply as one would expect it to. It undergoes a period called a lag phase where nothing happens” By this time, I was expecting the shop to transform into a hall and a powerpoint presentation to appear out of thin air.
“Then after that nothing, the bacteria multiplies exponentially and that’s called the log phase.” I was seeing where she was going and I was crying inside at how nature is so beautiful and poetic. Also, how dare we humans think we’re special when we act like freaking bacteria.
“Then it reaches a point where it’s in a stable condition…. then it dies.”
Just as I thought I was going home assured and happy, death comes in the picture. We both laughed at the realization of how silly our conversation turned out to be.
“Regardless of the death part, though, I think you’re in between the lag and the log phase. You’re introduced to a new environment and you’re still incubating. After this, you’ll grow exponentially.”
“Until I die” I butt in.
I laughed again, knowing that this was the natural flow of things. I had to remind myself to be kind and wait. Also, I reminded myself how thankful I was for RMT friends who help you deal with your shit by pulling out dirty metaphors from their brilliant minds. She definitely scienced the shit out of my emotions.
Nature teaches us the damnedest things and all we have to do is listen. Taking ourselves out from familiarity is terrifying as much as it is exciting. But the thing is, we don’t have to struggle so much. All we need to do is wait.
So I will wait. I will wait and incubate well. That will include grounding myself and keeping my center firm.
I am bacteria and fuck yeah, will I grow – and at an exponential rate at that. So maybe it feels awkward now and it will feel awkward for a time. But I will grow. And I will be just fine.