A few days ago I received a phone call from Massachusetts.
The caller ID said as much, so I knew right away who was on the other end of the line. I lifted the receiver, and without even speaking one word, I said her name. “You knew right away it was me?” was her delighted chirp, and I convinced her of course, who else would it be? For how many people did I know who have traveled to Boston this year?
You know how you want to say so many things at once and just have to cover as much ground? This was the case with my friend. I hadn’t seen her in two years, had just added her to my Facebook list, and could only recall the memory of her coffee shop rant when I saw her in 2008 during a holiday visit to Manila.
When we arrived in Manila, I met up with some friends I used to work with. I knew they were busy career women, so that having them come out to meet me at the Intercontinental Hotel in Makati was a feat, and this girl, now visiting Boston, had quickly gathered some five of them so we could bond and talk about our lives.
After a quick dinner, they all decided we would have coffee in one of those all nighters’ coffee bar along Cafe Lane in Greenbelt. We all sat down in a circle, each one asking questions rat-tat-tat-tat. Women in most cases, especially if you’ve known them for years, always end up talking about their personal lives. It had always been that way, so that meetings of an official kind, winds down into one’s romantic flings, how one’s husband was doing, what the children were up to, and so forth. After ordering our coffees and desserts, each and everyone wanted to know how I was doing. They were curious about my marriage, trying to make me admit about this and that.
“When am I going to get my chance?” Why is it I haven’t met my match?” was the loud lament of my friend, the girl now in Boston. In her corner in that coffee bar, the girls just looked at her, a look that said, oh, oh, we heard this before. I couldn’t help but smile, sure where this was coming from. “If you continue looking for it,” one girl scolded,” then it might not come at all.” I knew where the lament was coming from. She was looking at me as an example of second chances and asking when her time would come.
So this morning call from Boston was a woman to woman talk. Something both of us didn’t even know would happen. Something, my friend from Boston was saying, she never dreamed would be happening to her. “I am cooking lunch and he’s just gone to run some errands,” she’s explaining. “Oh, I love this, this is all I’ve wanted to do,” she says, referring to the pleasure she’s deriving playing housewife. As working women,single moms in Manila, I could commiserate. We had to work because we had kids and the stress and pressure to make ends meet was a constant battle.
She reminded me that even though we found her rant about finding Mr. Right funny, to her, in more ways, it was not. It was no fun, she says, coming home to a dark house. With her son grown up and getting more independent, she was yearning for companionship. She was never apologetic about how graphic her language could be when it came to sex or men. And this morning, as she talked to me from Boston, cooking up a storm in her man’s kitchen, she was spouting Tagalog words I have never heard of. I couldn’t help but smile. She had kept her signature irreverence.
Tomorrow, she says, they’re driving to Ontario. How far are you from there? She asked. A plane ride, I say. I ask how she met the man from Boston. “He was a classmate from elementary,” she says. “How did you happen to meet him after all these years?” I ask. She explains, how being so low tech, she never got on the FB bandwagon until last year, and only at the prodding of a client who made up an account for her right on the spot. That started it all. Somehow, the man from Boston found her. Sometimes, I say, the very things we are looking for, is right in front of you. “And sometimes, when you’re no longer looking, love finds you,” she adds.
We talked at length about her visit to Boston. She’d been busy traveling to NYC to visit family before she could even settle in and now that she was back, she said, “Well, after my brother, you’re the second person I had to call.” She stops and listens in the background. “He’s back, I can hear the garage door opening,” she says. She promises we will talk again.
I don’t know, but after we hung up, I feel buoyant. Like a victory. Having gone through an almost similar experience, I can relate to my friend from Boston. Which was why, talking to each other was important.
This has been a week of talking to women. First was the phone conversation with my friend from Boston, totally unexpected, but nonetheless, a happy footnote to a quest to second chances. A few days ago, my mom, then a friend named Donna, then today, my sister, who though a thousand miles away, is celebrating her golden birthday.