Sunday, May 28, 2006

The Damp

There’s always this feeling that comes a little before school begins. It’s a subtle transition from the searing heat of the summer sun into a certain dampness in the air as June heralds its trumpets. I would wake up at dawn, just slightly before the sun begins to rise, and I would smell it. I can smell the dampness as if it was something tangible and can be held.

Even after a year has passed, I could still find myself thinking of my high school, or more appropriately, The Place Where I Grew Up. Not just thinking about it, rather, visualizing as if I would step into its familiar doorless, blue-painted classrooms on the first day of classes. I’ve been in UP for a year, stalked its halls in its dingy morning glow and echoing emptiness at night, made friends that will probably be for life…but it was never home. I don’t think it will ever be. (Can I really say that only after a year?)

You know, I was probably the most enthusiastic in our batch to go to college. Some were just a little excited, others were apprehensive, and more, plain scared about the prospect. Of course, I didn’t understand them. Of course, I needed only a year to, a year to get rid of this supercilious surety of mine. It was more than enough.

I was with them yesterday. As usual, there was the funny, crazy, close-knit bunch we were since maybe forever. Some were fatter, one got thinner, all grew older. Somehow, we knew we were no longer the kids who graduated last year. From the conversations and the jokes, though, we were living in the past. It was a nice kind of past, without time machines and that other stuff. Maybe that’s why we like being with each other, never mind the vast imperfections: we recreate the old feeling of being home, in the same classroom; just with a little more cholesterol and facial hair.

One day I would detail the history. I tried once and it was too long, but I can always and I will try again. Obzite. Remember the name.

The dampness is everywhere. Have I told you that it’s not at all depressing? I still see me in my head sitting down in the blue, doorless classroom and putting down my new backpack in the vandalized armchair still smelling of varnish. More importantly though, I still see the old faces, and I don’t need the damp and the classroom for that.


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