"Na-analyze mo na ba ang pagkakaibigan naten?"
Chad asked me that question less than a minute before I need to alight from the jeepney we rode together on our way home. The commute, unless the boyfriend will come get me at work, is already some kind of nightly ritual. Something I actually look forward to. I have a lot to explain, but then there was already my stop. It didn't stop me from thinking about the question, though -- not when I was buying dinner from Jollibee and not even as I looked for a place where I can buy Mefenamic Acid.
My friendship with Chad started when I lost someone last year. If I am not mistaken he was the first one I told the bad news. As I laid my head on his shoulder, trying, trying really hard not to make the tears fall even harder, he told me "Ilabas mo lang. Masakit yan kimkimin." Those words I'll never forget ever. And for a long time since then, and even until now, that seems to be what Chad is to me: the person I tell things to.
It wasn't last year, though, that cemented our friendship to what it is right now. I think that Friday the 13th we spent outside a certain 7-11 store is what did it for me. You know that time when you know someone's hurting and so confused already, you just don't want to make the person any more confused and hurt, so you just try to sugarcoat everything? After all, she has just lost half of her friends and doesn't really have anyone to spend time with anymore but her boyfriend. Chad wasn't that kind of friend. He was never that kind of friend ever. Chad has this way of telling me awful things about myself without shattering me into tiny pieces. How many times have I already heard him say "Alam mo naiinis ako sayo nung ano..." And always, I'll respond with a laugh. It's probably because I know he's telling me this not because he hates me, but because he believes I am better than the person he is seeing.
And that's what made the friendship what it is now: When everyone thought ill of me, Chad stepped up and told me that I am better than what people perceive me to be. "Alam mo, Bianca, may image ka na talaga sa office na bitch ka," he said. To which I almost opened my mouth to say, "Talaga bitch ako". But then what he said next stopped me: "Dapat i-prove mo sa kanila na hinde ka bitch dahil hinde ka talaga bitch." And for the next two and a half hours, I listened to Chad as he told me how I can "un-bitch" myself.
I would have to say that I value my friendship with Chad because he brought a lot of good things in my life: he taught me how to understand people, how to be positive, how to give people the benefit of the doubt, how I can manage my team better; he stays late in the office with me so we can both finish our quotas. But most importantly, I know Chad understands how my brain is wired. We are unconventional thinkers, but what's important is that he understands me and that I understand him. I wish I can say that it's just the trivial kind of understanding. The type where you can already say "Yeah I understand" even before the other person is finished explaining. It's not. Quite honestly, I think a lot of people won't understand Chad and I, and that's probably why we're sticking it out right now.
But more than anything else, Chad taught me how to be a good person and that I should believe in my own goodness. He tells me what I am doing wrong. But he doesn't stop there. He also tells me what I should do to make things right. He calls my attention when I'm wrong and tells me how I can change. And sometimes, you know a person really cares for you when he wants to make you better.
Richard Bernhardt, I know I haven't thanked you enough. Thank you for believing in me and allowing me to be a person someone can really call his/her friend. I know that we still have a long way to go, but then I know I can always count on what you said "Ok lang yun para tumagal pa ang pagkakaibigan naten." I know that you're still figuring out why you're keeping our friendship (and I am very happy to have beat you to it), but I hope that when you're done analyzing it, you'll still want to keep it. You are a great person, and I am lucky to have you as one of my friends.