Wasn’t able to walk the old paths or see old friends when I went to the Diliman meeting.
The staff handed me 16 sheets of paper carrying expressions like “oceans and us,” “arising from the minutes of the previous,” “foundations of condensed matter,” “certificate in distance,” and “was pleasantly surprised to find it here.” The beginning and end of lunch were two separate conversations involving cancer. There was also caramel cake and two birthdays, if you’re interested in symmetry. As the staff packed up the extension cords, official documents, and serving plates, the secretary asked if I needed to do anything else on campus. I said no. She had reports to finish at Los Baños, and I was just someone tagging along.
“I have no vocabulary charged
with trespassing and grave poise.
Mounting farmlike” or of “old stew,
which never sticks to decaying paper,”
I suppose I could have lingered —should have lingered —gone back home an hour later via commute. The service offered all the shortcuts however, and reducing travel time by half meant that we’d arrive early afternoon. I could still fetch the girls from school.
They set the meeting up at NISMED, just across street from the remains of the Faculty Center. I haven’t been to that conference room, never walked those floors, in fact I had only ever been to the canteen at the back (I didn’t know then that it was merely the back of a larger compound) and that was when it was ISMED, had yet to go national, was still frequented by me and another freshman, now a godfather to my eldest. We used to eat al fresco. A negligible paper on Filipino vs. Confucian ethics formed there, on the glass of a wrought iron table. Crushes, ROTC sunburns, notes on telepathy and magnetism. I can’t remember what we ate.
bag full of kitchen-dimensional essays” created using homelessness and the current root of her body.
The conference room had three long tables, varnished and equally dark. A small crew merged these into a square upon the staff’s request. Toilets and a terrace on the same floor meant that you needn’t go too far from the meeting if you wanted to clean up or exhale the air-conditioning.
A giant fern sat on the first floor. What was the span of those fronds—a lane and a half? No, wider. Seemed wide enough to smother two whole mini-vans. What it would take to attend to the fern: a chair in the shaded area, a small desk for my elbows, a liter of water.