December 2, 2008

The End begins when you see the City Lights

The tricycle dropped me off at the side of a dark highway junction. I got out, paid the man a twenty, and headed out to the side of the road.

It was a relatively cloudless sky that night, but despite the starry canopy above and the bright headlights from oncoming vehicles, the expanse of nothingness the highway offered seemed to be as dark as pitch. I always found places that I’ve never been to as dreary, especially if it’s 10 in the evening.

But I really had no choice. A friend of mine has died, and there was nothing else I could do.

I remember Gerrol with only the vaguest of memories. It was 6 years ago when I first met him at the university: a guy with a taste for sharp clothes, the last name of a local political family, and a Harley Davidson. Okay, so it was a Chinese-made Lowrider that looked vaguely like a Harley, but I was a broke, gullible kid studying in a public university; in the land of the blind the Chinese Harley was the one-eyed king. I also clearly remember riding that bike to the local mall on the first day I had met him. Gerrol was pretty much a nice guy. He also had that certain charisma too, which was probably brought about by his years as the youth council president in his town of Sto. Domingo. But either way, he was still a nice guy.

Gerrol was an irregular student, and the irregular students in our college seemed to create a strong bond with each other. Maybe it was because we were different from the others that made us stick together that way, but next thing I knew I had Gerrol for a buddy and Gerrol had a lanky, mentally-disoriented sophomore for his.

But the next memories I have of Gerrol are now mere shards of its former self. Probably because of his budding political career, he lagged behind in classes, and pretty soon we kept seeing less and less of him. And what’s more, I have also moved on. I’ve met friends beyond the circle of irregulars in my class, joined a school paper, fell in love, and did some crazy stuff. But still, Gerrol and I remained good friends, and he would always invite me for a drink every time we saw each other.

And on the last time that I saw him alive he was still inviting me out for a drink. If I knew the events that would unfold later I should have took him on his offer and told him to wear a helmet. Because on the next time I would see him was through the glass window of a casket.

Gerrol died instantly when the motorcycle he was riding on crashed with another on a dark Friday night. It was another 5 days before Beth, another Irreg friend of mine, told me of what happened. And as usual, the feeling of numbness replaced shock. It was like I was a hundred miles away, a spectator in the travesty of life and death. But then again, I’ve had my issues.

But whether those issues were real or imagined, I found myself on another Friday evening with Beth at Gerrol’s house, staring at his remains and wondering what the fuck happened. I should thank Beth someday for bringing me there; she always made me remember that I existed in a coherent world. And we stayed for a couple of hours in his wake, talking with Gerrol’s fiancĂ©e and family, reminiscing the memories we’ve had of him, and thinking of life in it’s entirety.

While waiting for a bus bound for our town that night, I thought deeply of Gerrol’s death. He was barely 25, an age wherein death was considered unlikely. But it happened, and the implications of it brought more ideas to mind. I thought of Gerrol’s mortality, and what his life and his recent passing had in value. I thought of my own mortality, and asked myself that should a crazy truck driver run me over on the side of the road that night, would people come and visit me as well. But most especially, I thought about life.

So as always, though we forget, life is always unexpected. Beautiful, but unexpected.

Sto. Domingo was only a few kilometers from Legazpi, so the city lights were clearly visible in the dark. And as I looked at it as I climbed up the jeepney on the way home, the lights glimmered brightly until they were hidden from view by the trees. I gave one last look back, and turned to the road ahead.

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