I met my best friend Patrick in grade 5, when I arrived at a new school, in the first year of a program for identified-gifted children. Having moved schools several times before ending up in this particular program, I never really had the opportunity to make lasting friends. In my mind, at the time, making friends had meant actually keeping them, and in the powerlessness of my youth, I had merely been unable to hold on to anyone close for any sort of platonic companionship.
We were both Filipino, which somehow made it more comfortable for me to make acquaintances with him, and we had a lot in common as far as our family backgrounds were concerned. We were both considered “special” children in our families, being brought to school with a sort of pressure to succeed and fulfill the family dream of becoming a doctor. At the time, I was easily convinced by my mom (as Patrick was by his) that career success meant everything.
We grew and developed together intellectually and as friends within this program, being in the same class almost every single year, and upon graduation of elementary school, we both enrolled into the International Baccalaureate program in high school. While the filial pressures to academically perform skyrocketed, what developed even more dramatically was that of our friendship; emotional closeness, camaraderie, and even rivalry had formed. We pushed each other in our studies, rocked out together in concert band, and reassured each other that we were the shit; bullying was never an issue, because we built each other up to be better than what we were seen as by the more popular students.
But with those incredible highs came trying low points as well, points which challenged and tested the mettle of our friendship. In sophomore year, we found ourselves in a love triangle with a girl in our concert band, one year our junior. We quickly became friends with her, not only as a group, but in our respective pairings with her. Tensions rose to the point where we had to call a truce to not act on any of our respective feelings for her, but the emotionally active beings we were during puberty, he ended up confessing to her anyway. I was sorely disappointed in what he did, and grew a bit distant from him.
That distance grew further with time, and before I even had a chance to finish the junior and senior years of International Baccalaureate, I dropped out of the program due to the overwhelming stress that I had felt academically, and having felt a sort of loss in our friendship, I felt as if I had to find myself, or the quintessential high school version of myself, at least.
I started over once again, so late into what would eventually become the peak of my high school life, and Patrick wasn’t around for any of it. We never kept in touch, save for a few of his school band concerts that I had attended. It didn’t really feel as close as those days in freshman and sophomore year. We went our separate ways in University.
I never heard from him again. To some extent, I even stopped thinking about him and the valuable friendship that we had developed, in spite of that weird triangle that had formed and put a wrench in our relationship. Sadly, I never felt any regret or loss, as I had pretty much written him out of my life completely.
And then I watched Macross Plus.
Watching the relationship between Isamu and Guld, as rocky as it was throughout the story, didn’t necessarily bring all of those memories back; if anything, other than the fantastic visuals of the production itself, the actual triangle between the two of them and Myung was so far out in its drama (as far out as Shoji Kawamori could be, anyway) that it was difficult to relate. Yet, it did make me think about him, and how dumb a disagreement between two very good friends like us had set two people off in separate directions, despite having so much in common at first.
Watching the triangle in Plus sort itself out the way it did, I was sort of baffled by how any sort of resolution between the two sides of any love triangle in general could be at all mutually beneficial. Someone always gets hurt, and someone has to bear the weight of repairing once-sterling friendships. Patrick was my osananajimi, and realizing that we had reached a completely different stage of my life compared to high school, I wrote a heartfelt email to him immediately after finishing the short series. I heard he was living in Japan at the time, working on a project for his PhD, and there was a possibility that I had lost my chance to get back in touch with a person who had meant so much to me.
He responded to my email barely a day later. By stroke of luck (or perhaps fate), he was in town, and was overwhelmed by my sudden reappearance in his life. We met up for coffee, and we spent an entire evening catching up at a bar over pizza and beer. Good ol’ guy stuff, I suppose, but the two of us were hardly anywhere close to that sort of manly ideal suggested by media and society. We were still dumb nerdy boys at heart, and in completely different places in life from each other, with completely opposing worldviews.
Yet, despite everything that had happened, our chance meeting was perfect. Opposites attract, I guess, and having grown apart, we somehow become more compatible friends than ever, providing each other with completely different insights based on our shared experiences and our unique journeys in life since I left the IB program. The cycle of friendship was complete, and we patched everything up, and then some.
During our talk, I asked him about that girl in high school that we fought with each other about, and unsurprisingly, the both of us had forgotten her name. It was all history, and looking back at what we meant to each other made us appreciate where we ended up even more. We’ll continue going in our separate directions, and we might not even see each other again until we’re dumb adults with our own families and such.
Patrick is the kind of best friend who will never go away. As long as we both know that we are rooting for each other’s success in life, our relationship will last. Unfortunately, it’s the kind I’ll never be able to keep for a period of time; however, I’ll always end up finding it once again, which is a plus.