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The yearbook write-up I could've written for you*

Let me set the scene: 2008, we were freshmen in college, classmates for our first ever PE. We were required to pair up and walk for two hours, twice a week. For most, that's enough interaction with classmates - to end up politely greeting each other across hallways or dutifully saying happy birthday when Facebook prompts you to. And that's fine; it is somehow a feat to still be on minimal contact with a person you spent a few afternoons with more than seven semesters ago. I greet him on his birthday; he likes my posts and comments with something more than a thank you. Fishball tayo, something something, see you around, something something, bonding soon! It's all good. On that front, I can honestly say that Ludwin is definitely a great... acquaintance.

And acquaintances are all that we are, because what do I know about him, really? Aside from the fact that he wasn't born on a leap year, and that he's been in UP all his life? I... know he brings a bottle of water to class every meeting. I know he replies when you ask him if the professor is there. I know he politely laughs at people's jokes, even when he doesn't find them funny; and when he does, he will add on to that because he just gets humor that way. He will hold an umbrella over your head even when it's only drizzling. He won't laugh mockingly at your bright neon green jacket, even when it clashes terribly with your equally bright neon pink bag. He will be amused at the fact that you don't know how to bike. You should let someone teach you, he'd say. And he won't tell you if he had himself in mind when he said so. He won't, because he doesn't belong to you, and he knows his limitations. He plays the drums, and you will remember this because sometimes when you're all sitting down and waiting for your professor you see him tapping his feet to an imaginary bass drum pedal or his fingers playing with imaginary sticks before hitting an imaginary cymbal. He moves his hands in careful precision, accurately inching through each second with a single beat; but his head sometimes sways in a quiet form of abandon, as if in his mind he is preparing for the swell of a finale. He doesn't have the face of someone who fades into the background; he seems like a natural leader, like the rhythm that ties all notes together. But he looks like he has the tenderness of a man who will gratefully concede, to the music, to a girl, to a great love - whichever calls him the loudest. And you can tell by the way he doesn't let you cross the road before him that he knows how to keep one safe, even and especially when you don't ask him to. 

Perhaps this is who he is. Perhaps not. Perhaps this is the kind of description I can write about someone I only know from afar, someone I only see on my feed and never in person, someone I haven't really conversed with in five years. Perhaps. But he asked me to describe him, and this was the only way that I could: through vague recollections and hasty projections. In any case, after this, only one of two things can happen - either I get it right, and we are both pleased at how lucky I was to have come up with something so spot on. He will get a nice yearbook write-up from a kind acquaintance, and that is that. 

Or I get it wrong, and he finds a way to get back to me, just to tell me how incorrectly I've characterized him, point-by-point, over some ice cream and chocolate cake. You should let someone teach you, he'll say. How to bike? No. How to write about me. And at that instant, we will both know who he has in mind.


* In an alternate universe, 2012 would have turned out a little differently than it did. He would've asked me to write him a yearbook description, and I would've been in the proper mindset to do so. He wouldn't have been attached; I wouldn't have been saddled with problems that kept me up at night and terrified me in the mornings. Things would have been a lot different, but hopefully it would've also been the same. We'd like to believe there's a universe out there that would've led to me writing this, and him liking it. And things still falling into place the way it all did.