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Keeping an Enemy closer.

Everything else about that day was blurry - I don't remember much about what I said, what we learned in school, or what I had for recess - but there are some details I'm highly unlikely to forget. I was four years old, wearing my black-and-white checkered skirt for the first time in my life. I belonged to Kinder 1 - Pink AM, a first among the many shades of that color that would make a significant impact on my life. I had a new set of crayons and a Polly Pocket bag. My shoes were shiny and my socks were neatly folded down to my ankles.

But the most important detail of all was that she was late; that I know for sure. She came in a few hours late for class. Her hair was down, up to her shoulders. She looked quiet and meek, surprised even, probably because of the numerous pairs of eyes looking at her as the teacher introduced her in front. I remember sitting somewhere near the front, curious about who this girl was. I think she sat next to me, or if not, somewhere in the same table. I already had a buddy then who was just as loud and talkative as I was. But somehow, despite this new girl's apparent shy demeanor, the two of us felt that this new kid should be our friend. She was the "new girl" and we were compelled to welcome her to our table. The three of us promised to eat recess and play together everyday after that. We shared crayons and she told me her name was Katrina. We became attached to the hip after that. Friendship was sealed.

A migration, three graduations, numerous recesses and lunches, and fifteen years later, that new girl and I are still very much the two naughty girls who played only in the yellow slide and chose the swing over monkey bars. Pretty much everything stayed the same. Only she's no longer the gentle, quiet girl, and no one ever calls her Kat.

It's uncanny how similar Hope and I are at first glance - we're both loud, extremely friendly, and sometimes complete goofs. And yet, I think we'd be the first ones to point out how different we are as well. She's more straightforward and frank, I'm more of a softie. She retaliates, I retreat. She tears up when in joy, I laugh even in pain. Aside from that, we have different interests as well. We're taking up two different courses from campuses that could not get any more dissimilar (A Catholic university versus one that lets students run naked). We could not be any more different when you look closer, really.

But one thing we undeniably share in common, however, is our exceedingly corny sense of humor. When it became a fad to call everyone's closest friend "Bestie" or "Bhez" or whatever derivation of the phrase "best friend," as we ascended to the second floor one fateful day during second year high school, we decided to call ourselves Enemies - (1) because in CLE class we were discussing about Jesus and his most important commandment of "loving your enemies" and (2) because we just wanted to be different. We had a good laugh after that - I think it lasted for more than ten minutes. We could not believe how "witty" we were for coming up with "Enemy." Hey, we weren't like anyone else!

And certainly, we aren't. After almost two decades of friendship, I can very much say we're not like most friends. We don't just read through each other's thoughts, or finish each other's sentences, or call each other everyday. For all the complexities there are, ultimately, it really is the time we've spent together that has sealed this friendship. It really boils down to that. When you've been friends with someone for so long, losing touch just isn't an option anymore. I think we've reached this point where it doesn't matter how long we haven't talked to each other or how far apart we are - just put us together and we can pick up where we left off.

Today is Hope's birthday. I know she wants a surprise and she would love to have people blindfolding her and presenting her with cakes and balloons. But I've known her longer than I've known how to spell the word 'caterpillar' - and coming from me, those kinds of surprises would mean nothing already. We've gone past that stage. We no longer need the gifts and the party hats - right now, we just need the words, the acknowledgement, the same kind of reassurance we had in each other that day in kindergarten when we promised to be playmates forever; that no matter the distance or the time, in this time in our lives, when everything is changing and life is starting to unfold, she would always be my Enemy, and I would always be hers. And that would always, always be more than enough.

Thank God, she came late in that class.

Happy birthday, Enemy! Let's bond soon, okay? Love you! :*