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Circles of friends |

Modern Living

Circles of friends

SECOND WIND - Barbara Gonzalez-Ventura - The Philippine Star

In some years of our lives we spent with family, we seemed to have forgotten our friends.
Maybe it’s because I am an introvert, which is hard to believe, but I am an only child — no brothers or sisters, an orphan who grew up with my quiet, stately grandmother.  She left me alone to play.  I grew up alone with a lot of quiet time.

Maybe that’s why I am happy being alone. Last year, my life was full of family. My grandson, who lives in England, came in December and stayed until July. That’s around seven months of company. I had to adjust to his character. Now, I have no recollection of how my normal life flowed. I think I stopped making jewelry and just either knitted or crocheted in front of the TV set trying to keep out of Julian and his friends’ ways.

After he left, another grandson came to live with me.  He had a different personality from the English grandson so he required a new set of adjustments. Finally, this grandson decided to go back home to his father. When I realized I had my home back, I fixed it my way again. The smallest room with the wildest breeze became my workroom again. This is the room where I make jewelry and paint, or rather where I will paint again one day when the mood hits me. Right now, I’m still making jewelry. I made them to give away as Christmas gifts. 

Of course, I still have my bedroom, but now I have a formal guest room, which I offer to friends. I don’t know yet who will take my guest room but it’s there.  And I love the peace and quiet of my home. 

But one day, I realized that as a mother with grown-up children, I need to craft a life of my own, reach out for my friends, be active among my circle again.  So I put it in my head that in 2016, I was going to be more sociable.  And very early in the year, it all began again. 

First, I got together with two old classmates, Nena and Lydia. We were classmates from third grade to high school, and we enjoyed each other’s company immensely. All three of us now make jewelry, but we each have our own style. We don’t compete. And the friendship of old friends is exceedingly warm. Nostalgia doesn’t feel like nostalgia. It just feels like strong sisterhood. We talked about our problems and laughed over them, and we agreed: Never mind about them. We are still very good friends.

Then there were my old students from my writing class — Cocoy, Josie, Gigi, Emily, Fred and Carmel, Tracy. They came over bringing delicious food and red and white wine. They loved the lights as seen from my porch, my view from San Juan to Manila Bay. That night was fun, good conversation, much laughter.

Then came the Sunday lunch with another bunch of friends. This time it was Linda, Joe, Ed and Maya. For this lunch, I thought of experimenting with the spaghetti recipe taught to me by one of my mother’s Italian-American friends.  I used to cook that really well when I was a teenager, and got a marriage proposal from someone I cooked it for. Apparently, I had forgotten the recipe, didn’t do it so well. I will try again. Please don’t ask me for the recipe because I don’t cook out of recipes. I cook out of my head, from a memory of the heart. I try and try, and try again and again until I get it right then I forget it and cannot cook it exactly the same way.  Anyway, that wasn’t so good, but the lunch was fun, a lot of talk, a lot of laughter and enough wine.

Then one day, Tessie Tomas called. Tessie and I worked together at McCann-Erickson many years ago, just when she was about to launch her act as Amanda Pineda, her very first professional act. I invited her and Butch Tan, another workmate at the same office. We all handled Coca-Cola and other soft drink brands. This time, I tried to duplicate my grandmother’s delicious adobo recipe. Of course, I failed again because I know how the adobo tasted, but Tessie thought it was very good. Again we had a lot to talk about — people we used to work with, trips we took together. How wonderful it all was at the time. It’s amazing the quality of memories that rise when we are with the friends of the period.

I haven’t even counted the trips to restaurants with different sets of friends. I had forgotten how wonderful it is to be with old friends again, to revisit our youth with the people who shared it, to discover the breadth and depth of your friendships. To feel loved and to give love with no conditions.

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