I passed through the gates, flashing a grin and my ID at the security guard on post but this time I did not have a sling around my neck, but what I had was remark that went “Alumni po, I will just get my diploma”. From the Claveria gate and into the dark halls of Thibault Building, I was strongly embraced with an instant and immensely overpowering wave of nostalgia. The feeling was too real that I thought I saw my friends at the Gazebo, reviewing, discussing, eating green mangoes and laughing at the same time. It even came as if I just arrived too early for my first class, my hair wet and bunned, my ipod dangling from my ears, walking briskly towards these marble huts while recalling in my busy mind if I had any deadlines that had to be met today or which part of the IPE lecture I still had to catch up on (ugh, EVERYTHING?).
But when I reached the Gazebo, Ina and Mizzy weren’t there asking Migel and Paulo what they were having for lunch, there was no mini-Ate Sheila shrine with her disciples in a cluster, I think I saw the A-Girls at the back but it was only a bunch of first years, but there was no giggling Joybell and Kat, no Mau and Eds waiting for me, no Gabs who pretended to be studying just to make us all feel better, even though, you know, she doesn’t really have to. Then the whole image became even more clear, I was not going to see JM and Joseph exchange obscenities (they still do it of course, but not in this setting) or admire Irene, Mitch and Lanie’s arriving like there was no fuss in the world. Our ever energetic, entertaining and stunning friends from the American Studies were never going to pass by again, share a comment or two then head off to their next class. Worst of all, I. Could. Not. Find. Sir. Martin. Anywhere. (just to at least ease the longing lol).
My trip to Ateneo this morning was unplanned, I was just too early for a meeting so I decided to drop by and claim my diploma to kill the time. But those brief 10 minutes of visit made me realize how much I missed going to school, not because of what I had to do there or the place (but I really miss the library), but the people whom I shared this campus with. Sure I can always go back and get a Postgraduate Degree, but there would be no IS4 waiting for me this time.