Memoirs of a retired teenager
The old neighborhood is quiet these days. Or
maybe it’s just me.
Since entering law school, I haven’t been out much — treading the sloping streets of our humble subdivision. It seems that I don’t have that luxury anymore.
I miss going on those pointless walks around the block with the rest of the gang —Bobby and his brother, Alvin, Erwin, John-John, Donny and my brother Marvin.
Life was so simple back then, especially for us teenagers.
During schooldays, we would meet every afternoon at our usual hang-out: Aling Conching’s sari-sari store, planning what to do for the rest of the day, which would usually be a choice between playing several games of basketball or an impromptu jam session, playing countless rock songs (Though I must admit, we were quite an act during those sessions).
Summers were seasons of bliss and vibrance for the group.
With so much free time in our hands, the possibility of conjuring up things to do was endless. There were the occassional trips to the nearby mountain resorts, which mostly drained whatever savings we had set aside for the summer. But those trips were worth every centavo — with our eyes feasting on the whistle-bait figures of young girls dressed in colorful (and sometimes revealing) swimsuits. Sometimes, when lucky enough, we would end up adding the names of those ladies to our phonebook.
Of course, there was also the annual summer basketball league sponsored by the subdivision. We had our own team — the GJ Dream, which had the youngest players in the league. Though the best finish the “franchise” ever had was second place, we nevertheless enjoyed having new uniforms made each year. We lost a lot of games which we believed we should have won had we not been “cheated” by the other teams. Such was the belief of teenage boys. However, we were never able to prove any of our allegations.
But boys eventually have to die and give way to the birth of young men.
College happened and each one of us found ourselves beyond the miniature universe that was our subdivision. We were exposed to the larger picture of life —something way beyond jam sessions, rock music, basketball games and trips to local resorts. We became preoccupied with what we perceived as more important things such as calculus, fraternities, school organizations, and theses.
In other words, we started drifting apart and the once rag-tag teenage gang had to grow up. The neighborhood hasn’t been the same since then.
Gone are the pompous laughters and hollers that filled the neighborhood air. It was as if the life had been somehow drained from our beloved block.
After sometime, I learned that Bobby and John-John had settled down to a life of marriage. Alvin and Donny were already working. As for my brother Marvin, he now works for a company in La Union — hundreds of kilometers away from home.
It wasn’t until recently when I got word that John-John died that I realized how much of youth we had lost. John-John was barely 30s when he passed away and I wasn’t even able to set aside time to attend his funeral. I haven’t received news about the gang anymore.
As I look in the mirror each morning, each time with an older face and a deeper understanding of things, I try to ask myself if I had been true to my mission as a teenager. Was I able to make the most of the youth that nature had bestowed upon me? Had I been a different person if I spent those days with other people?
I try to find answers to these queries each day.
Nowadays, the neighborhood is again alive with the voices of children, who in a few years will grow into teenagers that we once were.
It would be interesting to see what their story will turn out to be.
Montage Vol. 6 • August 2002