A favorite pastime is raiding our closets and shelves and making them roomier by purging old stuff. In a recent "raid", I came across an old journal that I kept during my early college years. It was an unexpected find. I thought all my diaries had gotten lost when my mom packed up and moved to a new place after my father's death. But there it was, unobtrusively nestled among the children's storybooks.
My raiding mission was soon forgotten as I pored over the entries made by the seventeen-year-old me. I laughed at her misadventures ("today, after Nat Sci class, I followed W... I saw him throw a piece of paper into the trash can. I waited until he was out of sight and then poked into the trash can to retrieve this piece of treasure! / I kept on bumping into G today...well, M and I were following him so maybe that's why."). I shared her pain over her heartbreaks ("I had been a despondent witness to your 'affairs' with C and D. I had borne the pain of knowing I will never be the girl you will love back."). I felt her passion for her friends ("I will see M, J and S tomorrow! Finally! I miss my bestfriends!"). I smiled at her scholarly pursuits ("Still have two weeks but I started studying for Soc Sci 2 at the library today. Is it weird that Marx is starting to get interesting?" / I got a 1.25 for our Broad 101 production!"). I relived her closeness with her dad ("I woke up at 3am so I could say goodbye to Tatay before his flight to Bacolod. When I kissed him goodbye, I once more felt afraid that I might not see him again.." / "Tatay and I watched Julio Iglesias in Araneta today. Tatay looked so happy."). I shook my head as she lamented an incident with her mom ("I'll never give her the benefit of seeing me in tears. NEVER! I hate her!").
It was quite an emotional jaunt to the past and the author did seem inclined to be melodramatic. But I couldn't help but admire the seventeen-year-old girl who bared her soul into that diary. I know for a fact she didn't mean to sound so wise. Yet, in her cluelessness I saw a wisdom that was endearing, simple and real. At a time when she believed nothing made sense, it turned out she was learning lessons that others would not be as fortunate to learn at such a young age.
If the Girl in Sneakers ever gets to meet my daughter, I can imagine her sharing these nuggets of wisdom:
1. Someday you will fall in love. The feeling will not always be reciprocated. You will be taken for granted, considered a mere episode in someone's life or categorized under "next lifetime". Sometimes, certain things will mean much more to you than they would to others. Yes, dear, you will have your heart broken. Several times. But...LOVE ANYWAY. Fall in love as fully and as madly as you wish. It can't be love if it were any less than that!
2. Because you will love wholeheartedly, you will most likely get your heart blown into pieces. But...DON'T BE AFRAID. Pain, when we accept it and stop fighting it, sanctifies us, humbles us and shapes us to be more compassionate. Pain unveils the better, stronger person within us. And trust me, the hurt does fade away eventually.
3. Never forget who you are. You are special, you are beautiful, you are loved by your family and watched over by a Great God. YOU DESERVE TO BE FULLY, TOTALLY LOVED. Never let anyone or anything make you feel unworthy. Remembering who you are is your shield. Sure, they can break your heart. But they can never ever break you.
4. IT'S NOT UNCOOL TO STUDY. Go ahead and let your friends tease you about being a geek. Studying hard will never cause you shame. And when you do get into UP, you will find that the Main Library is one of the most interesting "tambayans" on campus. Check out the Stacks Section, where your mom enjoyed quiet moments, and this must be said with much emphasis, ALONE.
5. ENJOY YOUR DATES WITH YOUR DAD. Fathers have a unique brand of wisdom and your dad can tell you a thing or two about handling boy issues. He was, after all, also a boy once upon a time.
6. PRAY FOR FRIENDS WHO ARE WORTH KEEPING. You will probably have countless friends along the way. But it can only be a gift from God if you find true friends who will stand by you, walk with you and love you as you love them.
7. And finally, as you journey towards adulthood, you will make a whistle-stop at the I-Hate-You-Mom-Ville. Regardless of the pact you and your mom made about being BFF and regardless how vehemently your mom denies it, it will happen. Just remember this: no matter how convincingly it may appear that she's out to make you miserable, don't believe it. YOUR MOM WILL ONLY AND ALWAYS WANT WHAT IS GOOD FOR YOU. She will not do anything to hurt you. She'd die first, gladly, repeatedly before she would do that. And the two of you will be OK. It's just a whistlestop. You will get to "I-Love-Mom-I-Can't-Believe-I-Ever-Doubted-Her-Land" soon enough, and you'll be getting off to stay.
Thank you, Girl in Sneakers. Mommy in Boots owes you. Big time.