Being with familiar company can do you great wonders.
For one, you don’t feel as isolated and alone. A lot of my relatives from my dad’s side are here for a big convention that was headed by an aunt. Two groups of friends were also here on the same week –my soul sister Meryll who’s hosting the said event, and my Christian climbing buddies who were here for a youth congress. It’s been a fun reunion for me and I was able to introduce them to my life here in Palawan. How I’ve been wanting these two particular groups to be here is also yet another story. Divinely appointed, I might say.
Second, you have lots of shared meal times. This week I’ve been on constant eating-outs with my friends and relatives, so much so that I’ve had a surplus of fish and beef in my system just when I’m currently addressing my increasing uric acid. Ack! I did cook twice for Meryll at home, but for the rest of the week I’ve been out and about and that’s good! Eating alone gets tiring, too.
Third, you feel right at home. I always say Palawan has become home to me. Their presence then makes you feel even more at home. Thank you Sir Ace, Bro. Jhun and Kuya Marvin for taking time to meet with me. A whole day spent with you has been really fun. :-)
Being with familiar company can also be “complicated”, stressful and burdensome in many ways. That can always be said for visiting relatives and families –the drama, the demands, the social obligations that you have to fulfill. Truth be told, I haven’t been this much exhausted and it’s partly because of fulfilling social obligations while balancing work. That’s the word there. Obligations. It’s beautiful and complicated at the same time. Often times, obligation carries with it a negative connotation. Like you’re obligated to do this for a friend. Or that you’re obligated to do this because it’s for family.
The difference with friends is that while there is still that obligation, there isn’t that much pressure to satisfy “every” need. Basically, there is acceptance and appreciation, and enough leeway for mistakes. A simple dinner will do. Taking out 2 hours off of your time is already a big thing. A simple text to let you know you’re in town. One group picture and your Facebook wall is satisfied. With families, you’re dealing with everyone else’s opinion and demands, and every voice has to be heard. Where to eat? Why there? How to get from one place to another. Who makes the call? Aren’t you coming? Where is the van? Who will pick us up? Have you made this arrangement? Have you called this person? Where are you?
A friend of mine was here in Palawan on the same week my relatives and the two other groups of friends were here. That makes it three different groups of friends. He had informed me about a month ago that he was going to be here, but we never got around to discussing if we would meet or anything. If I remember correctly, I did say to let me know he was in town. It wasn’t until I saw a picture he posted on Facebook that I remembered he was here in Palawan. I immediately sent him a text message but I didn’t get any response so I decided to be the one to call. As it turns out, there wasn’t any opportunity to meet because he and his family had their own thing. They were in El Nido and their schedule was packed. I still insisted that we meet if there was a window. Deep down, I was really offended that he did not even make any attempts to get in touch with me. His petty excuse? He thought I was in Manila.
In an age of social networking and excessive communicating through instagram, facebook, even SMS, I find that excuse very unacceptable. I mean, really?! What is one text just to let me know you’re in town? How hard could it be to locate a person when you can just make one simple call or text? It may be that I’m busy or that he, too, will be busy and preoccupied, but for courtesy’s sake, and for social obligations, an effort to reach out will be much appreciated. Or it could be that he just wasn’t obliged to. See the complications?
I ranted about this to Meryll. I reasoned that I met every other mountaineer friend of mine (we belong in a climbing group) when they were here. I volunteered to pick them up at the airport, helped arranged for their tours and transfers to El Nido, and really took time to meet with them. And for the record, I’m not clingy to friends. In fact, I’m very independent. I can go on for months without meeting friends in person. Calls, Facebook, Viber, text, line messages will do in place of physical meet ups.
That said, when the opportunity comes to meet with a friend personally, I don’t pass it up. It’s always great to catch up with friends after not seeing each other for a loooong time. As you grow older, you tend to keep your real friends closer and you also realize, they become smaller and smaller over the years. That’s fine. We’re all at different stages in our lives. We’re thankful for those who were once very present in our midst and recall them with fondness. It isn’t always possible to meet up, but at least give it some effort and try to keep in touch.
All these said, when does obligation to somebody begin and end? My relatives are a particularly-hard-to-please bunch and almost every time, boundaries are crossed. Yesterday, I already cried in frustration over their never-ending demands. Just to give you a snippet of the very frustrating things I’ve been dealing with:
- Vehicle demands – since they have to be brought from one place to another, I’m expected to provide a vehicle for them. What complicates this is when the numbers keep adding up. Like there are only 8 and then there will be 25 people. You can’t magically fit 25 people in a 10-seater van. And of course, you’re supposed to be the magician.
- Bookings – You’ve booked them in a hotel and when they get there, they demand something else. Or they want to add this and that. Or that they just don’t show up and you’re left to explain this to the hotel partner. Even your partnerships get jeopardized and the worst part? They don’t even consider all the opportunity costs and losses that will be incurred by these cancellations and demands.
- Tours – you’ve already arranged for all their tours, sent all the details over email months before, and when they get there, they don’t get why they are being charged this and that. You could fault them for not being so “technically proficient” to read emails, but you can’t, somehow. It will just get so much more complicated.
It’s been fun having friends and family, but the obligation part is also very stressful. I enjoyed it for the most part but I must say there always has to be a healthy divide over when it becomes a filial obligation, or a work obligation. Family messes that divide and it can be stressful. Maybe it’s just my family. LOL. Some things just do not change. :D Love you, Abesamis family! :)
What I liked the most about how this week turned out was being with my good friend and soul sister Meryll. She kept me sane. We felt just right at home, doing our own thing, “coping” with the stresses. She’s been assimilated with my family a long time ago and I had to remind her again to make sure she knew her boundaries, because my relatives from my father’s side can really be very overwhelming. Our lives are so interconnected that you just want to protect her from the stress and tension which you feel should not be passed on to her. We’re a complicated family.
Meryll being at home was a breath of fresh air to me. Hearing her sing every morning and throughout the day as she works to finish her deadlines. Having her meet my church mates and even my climbing friends. Having her share her testimony and being an inspiration to my church friends here has been a big blessing to me. We had the best time! Laughing at jokes, squashing Australian pick up lines (“Nice try!”), drawing and saving precious water in drums because, hey, we have to smell and look good the next day! And of course, eating, eating, and eating.
Here’s the part when obligations are done right. You do your part as a friend, and they do theirs as well. I think why this was so different was the line that Meryll used in her letter to me. “Thank you for loving on me this week.” I think that’s that. You do these things as an expression of love, and it won’t feel like obligation anymore.