12:45am, nostalgic

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I grew up around boys. I played with toy guns, slingshots, miniature cars and trucks, and lego blocks. Oh yes, I also had Barbie dolls and kitchen sets, and I had a girl best friend named Roxanne. But more often than not, my Barbie dolls ended up either bald, beheaded, or mangled in some other way. And Roxanne had other girl friends, and they liked leaving me behind.

I grew up around boys. I had more fun chasing them down with water guns than staying at home pretending to cook leaves or taking care of baby stuffed animals. I liked fencing with these boys with long bamboo sticks, literally pulling them out of haystacks (where they liked to hide), and punching them in the nose. I liked climbing up trees and fences (not that I was any good, I was the smallest) and rolling down hills and just pretending that we were travelers in an unknown land. When I tried playing jack stones with this one boy, I.. er.. scratched his face and pulled out his hair because I got pissed. Hmm… I might have lost the game, that’s why. In retaliation, he dug his nails deep into my left arm. Until now, I still have a few of the battle scars. (He now has a baby girl, and when I see him in the neighborhood, I can’t help but laugh at that memory.)

So I grew up around boys. On my mother’s side of the family, I am the eldest among the youngest generation. I have two brothers, Paulo and Carlo, and two cousins, Jumi and Johnjay, their ages ranging from six to twenty-three. I am what some would call the ‘alpha female,’ that is, if we were forming a society, it would be nicely ‘matriarchal.’ And I guess they do indeed look up to me. Paulo would ask my opinion about some very mundane things like which bus we should take when we go to Quezon City together. Carlo likes asking me to teach him to play the guitar and table tennis. He’d gotten way better than me, of course, haha! But he still delights in the fact that I teach him chord theory. Jumi likes to ask me about books. We both like “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” and the Rick Riordan pentalogies. And Johnjay, being the youngest, loudest, and the most spoiled brat I’ve ever laid eyes on, well.. he falls silent and sits in a corner when I lay my big menacing eyes on him.

I grew up around boys. If my memory serves me right, I had more guy best friends than girl best friends. From fourth grade to sixth grade all the way up to high school, I had guy best friends. And rule number 1 was, you freakin’ don’t fall in love with your best friend. I can manage that pretty easily now. At least I think I do. So I have platonic relationships with guys. But back then, it was so easy to fall in love. There was this void that needed to be filled, this ever-romanticized chasm, the proverbial half that would make me whole. Well, it sucks because that was high school. And no boy, no matter how ‘best friendly’ he was, was ever mature enough.

I grew up around boys. And I loved them, my boys, my brothers. All those boys I threw water balloons at or pretend-stabbed with pencils or cheated in patintero. All those boys who pretended to be hurt whenever I kicked, punched, pulled, pushed, tripped, slapped, or boxed them. All those boys who never spread rumors about me behind my back… or left me behind. All those boys who climbed trees and hills with me and who helped me down fences whenever I was too scared to go down. All those boys I read books with, wrote poetry with, played music with. All those boys who shared stories with me under the stars. All those boys I became awkward with when I started growing up. All those boys who tried to tell me that they liked me in their own boyishly high school-ish immature ways. But most especially the boys in my family: the four boys who would grow up to be great men, all taller than me.

But as much as I loved these ‘boys,’ I cannot have them love me. No, a boy is not for me. What I want and need is a man. Which is what I have now.

First Published on 04 November 2012 in Facebook

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