Just came back from a lovely dinner with my Assumption Antipolo friends, Kristine and Pinky. I love them to death. Though we see each other once or twice a year, we always pick up where we left off. These are two of the very few people in the world who know me (the others would be Vince, Aida, and AJ. That's it!) Strangely, considering how very rarely we see and talk to each other, I am amazed that they have no judgments or misconceptions about who I am.
I am in this mood because Kristine had mentioned that in college, some of her classmates from Manila Science High (my high school) had wondered why she was friends with me. Kristine is a very sweet girl, smart and funny and ambitious and bossy and morally upright and all the good things a person can be. Pinky's the same way, too. And so am I (though I am less bossy than Kristine, and less funny than Pinky!). So I assume her classmates could not understand why someone like her could be friends with someone like me.
In high school, for some reason, I had gained quite a terrible reputation. My friends told me that behind my back, people whispered that I was a cheap slut, I slept around, I was stupid but got good grades through shady ways... and other nasty things like that. I never understood how I got this rep. A few of my friends guessed the rumors probably came from envious girls. But why? Why that degree of evil from fellow children like myself? I was 13 when I started hearing these things. At that age, and straight out of a convent, I didn't even know how babies were made!
Back then and until I left my parents' house six years ago, I had a 6 PM curfew, which I obeyed to the second. I knew better than to go home at 6:01. I may be headstrong but I never broke any of my grandparents' rules. I enjoyed going to church and reading my Bible. I may not have had the highest grades in school but that's because I didn't like studying--yet when college exams rolled around (and I didn't review for those!), I still easily passed, unlike the other snooty kids from the star sections who religiously went to review classes and still failed miserably (there is a God!).
Sure, I had friends, in school and in church. Yet sometimes I know they wonder about me. They spent a lot of time with me to know that I can't possibly be the terrible person I was rumored to be. And yet I knew, and I know till now, they wonder about me. I also know that my family, my own parents and sister and brothers, they wonder about me.
Which brings me back to Kristine who was telling me at dinner, "I knew who you were in grade school so though they asked me how I could be friends with you, I knew you possibly can't be who they say you were. I know you."
I am overwhelmed at that complete trust.
I have always felt that the truth is more important. I know who I am. I am not the girl described by those people who claimed to have known me. I am a good person. That is all I need to know. My God is my only judge, and He is the only one I need answer to. I am strong in my firm belief that my heart, my mind, my conscience, and my body are clean and pure and holy.
Yet when I hear a few kind words thrown my way, I weep, my defensive walls swept away by the force of so much love and faith.
The real me is real to somebody else after all.