There are places I remember

Last Friday, I unexpectedly found myself going to SM Centerpoint. I intend to pay my bills, look for a nice blouse and make a relaxing walk, after a long week. My usual destination for this activity was SM Manila. But I found myself too lazy of making a long walk and I was likewise trying to avoid the possibility of walking in the flooded streets of the Manila City Hall.

If we went to the same school, you will understand why SM Centerpoint is a significant part of my life. I studied at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines and SM Centerpoint is about a 5-minute ride. Hence, the mall somehow became my second home during those times of long breaks. When I was in my second semester of my first  and senior year in college, we have a 4-hour vacant period.  During those times, I found myself with my other friends and classmates eating out at Mc Donalds and strolling at the mall.

My trip to SM Centerpoint was 3 years ago, when I had a meet up with my friend and OJT buddy, Gracie. I was attacked by my recurrent quarter life crisis, as my friend Tinee calls it. I was frustrated with a lot of things in life. I felt that I needed someone new to talk to. Gracie and I did not really walked around the mall,  but just made a lot of catching up stories while dining at Wendy’s Hamburgers.

I just mentioned Wendy’s Hamburgers, which brings a lot of memories to me. Back in college, I wanted to eat at Wendy’s. However, my daily allowance could not even afford the cheapest burger combo meal. Hence, I was forced to settle with McDonald’s cheeseburger meals. Now that I am working, I feel a piece of fulfillment whenever I am reminded of that little wish. It somehow leaves a smile on my face upon remembering it.

As I was walking inside the mall, I noticed a lot of shops that I used to go to were already gone. The only shops that I think remained were Papemelroti, Blue Magic, National Bookstore, Pink and Blue Soda, and Marithe Francois Girbaud. The rest were already replaced by other shops. While walking alone, the memories of my college life, friends and classmates suddenly recurred and flashed back to me. The shops,  dear friends and classmates were all gone.

The Heartstrings Kiosk where we usually stop by to check out their cute cloth bags was gone. The Gift Gate Shop that houses the Hello Kitties that we enjoy seeing and touching was gone. The Robee Stickers kiosk where I bought stickers of my favorite PBA teams was gone. The stationery section of the SM Department Store where we roamed around was already transferred and reorganized to another floor. But more importantly, the people whom I spent with those shops were likewise gone to pursue their own endeavors in life.

In going back to the mall, I may have more confidence in entering those shops because I know now that I could pay. I have cards! 😉 However, I never thought before that such confidence will be later on accompanied by the feeling of missing my college life, friends and classmates. Is this a trade-off? Is this the opportunity cost of the little financial uplift I have?

Cliché as it may sound but I suddenly realized of how simple and uncomplicated my life was. My problems that time were confined in passing the examinations, doing my assignments, submitting all projects on time, coming to school everyday, rushing to get home to watch a basketball game, saving pennies and counting them after a semester to buy myself a little reward.

Today, my life is overwhelmed with a lot of concerns. Office work, teaching preparations, students’ concerns, consultancy work, payment of bills, generating savings, maintaining a healthy diet, getting rest, enough sleep and I’m sure, a lot more to come. As I walk around the mall, I can’t help but see places as a starting point of what and where I am right now. These places reminded me that some time ago, I was constrained with my allowance. My cabinet was so big to fit my few clothes. I only have three pairs of shoes. I was limited to two pairs of  jeans. I lived with one shoulder bag and a back pack. I do not have my own computer. Come with that constraints in life, I started dreaming for myself. I started telling myself that someday I will come back to those shops as a different person. Someday, I will earn and I will make sure that I will be able to buy all the things I want.

Today, I could proudly say to myself that in one way or another, I am able to buy the things that I ambitioned. Today, my closet is getting smaller because of my clothes, I have more than three pairs of shoes, I have pants of different colors, I have bags of different sizes, and I don’t anymore bother my cousin and relatives to use their computers.

However, the fulfillment of some dreams also meant closure and leaving places and people.  These places and people whom I have once shared my dreams and ambitions in life were gone. They have been transported to different places, in order to pursue and explore other ventures in life. I don’t know if they share the same feelings and sentiments with me. But for now, all that’s left for me is to remember these places and realize that once in my life, I have passed on them…