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It’s been two year since I last saw most of them. Since I resigned from my first job, and since the company closed down, my very first corporate colleagues and I haven’t found the time to really meet-up again. There were minor engagements – movie dates and book fairs – but they were always short-lived and infrequent, and seldom planned ahead of time. Sometimes, we just ran into one another at the mall or restaurant but only until it were possible. For the most part, we just couldn’t muster enough motivation to go out. One by one, we also found new jobs which kept us busier than ever. A few others found new vocations. While one, Raven, a very beloved friend of mine, started a family abroad.

In many ways, my job in that first company was the perfect initiation to the working world. The realities of working weren’t too stressful but provided enough room for me to slowly get used to having adult responsibilities. Yes, the job itself could have been more meaningful, or could have at least inspired us to be more passionate. But the people were great. And that gave us enough motivation to wake up at ungodly hours for our ungodly, early shift.

Incomparable is the term I would use to describe how it was in my first job. My colleagues and I were a family in every sense of the word, and together, we had such a marvellous time. It was a close-knit group of people who learned to love each other for what they brought to the table. Of course, like any family there were misunderstandings, most of which were resolved while a few were left in the archives of regrets. But our bonds were strong enough to get past the bad – at least that’s what I believe – and we are always reassured of having each other’s back at the end of the day.

So when my now full-time mom friend, Raven, said she was coming home for a vacation, and that she would organize a reunion for our group where we also get to finally meet her adorable baby boy, I couldn’t say no. Well, we couldn’t say no. There was no other answer. No job, no project, no family commitment would stop us. Not to mention the reunion would be on a Sunday!

The affair was splendid. We weren’t complete. Obviously, only those of us who stayed in Manila could come. Not everyone could afford an airline ticket back home anyway. And there were some disappointments with those who were supposed to make it but all of sudden couldn’t make it (maybe those unresolved issues still existed?) but it barely unsettled the mood. Around ten of us were in attendance, and it was already quite a riot: pleasantries, jokes galore, commentary, spilled secretes, laughter.

Seeing Raven now with her husband and child was such a joy. Just two years ago, we had laughed and cried together, not to mention gotten ourselves drunk – both with alcohol and love (what were we thinking is not the question here but why we were not thinking) – and now we were together as sorely missed company, Raven domesticated but still very inquisitive, smart, and headstrong with a new air of independence only motherhood can give. My good friend Anna – both my college classmate and colleague – was similarly overjoyed seeing Raven and her family too. The happiness for a friend’s success is truly unmatched.

Raven’s baby boy was perfect. He was charming, handsome, and full of energy and you could see he got his eyes from his mother. He was so full of life and unlike most babies (this observation coming from a man who dislikes screaming infants), didn’t mind being passed from one stranger to another. Raven too was more beautiful than ever. Motherhood has not only been kind to her but has blessed her with youthful grace. She’s doing well as a new mother and we confidently reassured to help her in whatever way we can.

Our lunch reunion lasted for over three hours, far longer than any reunion we’ve ever had (although in hindsight, I’m not sure we ever had as a big a reunion as yesterday). After lunch, Raven and her family had to leave early because they had to pack for a Mt. Pulag. She was leaving her son to the care of her mother in the meantime, as she gets some much deserved time alone with her husband.

Those of us who stayed had coffee, and chatted to pass time and relax after all the stirred emotions. Our cafe chatter was all about our memories from our first job. I had forgotten how fun it was back then now that I am immersed in both creative and clerical work so it was good to be reminded of some “work episodes” I had completely forgotten. I had a good laugh remembering the outrageous things we did –sneaking beer inside our building, smoking in air-condition vents, and drinking vodka-laced coke during work hours – and look at that time of my life as my mild yet satisfying experiment with propriety. As a group, we had a lot tons of moments to share that it became quite clear even countless order of frappes and packs of cigarettes would not last us.

“We’ve smoked enough smoke,” I remarked, which was a sign it was time to head home.

Dusk was settling in and the light Sunday crowd was thinning further into the blues of a new working week. Immersed in the memories of the past and now cloaked in the new memories made, I felt reinvigorated by the sight of men and women I am close to, who were once cocooned with me in the same corporate bubble, now pursuing different paths and building the legacies of their lives. More than an opportunity to catch up or even network now that we all work in different industries, it was also a chance to rekindle a friendship which, though lacking in physical contact, has always remind intact thanks largely to the solid foundation it was built upon.

It has truly been a while since I spent a good deal with old friends. The familiar voices of my former colleagues were heart-warming; their new stories of love, inspiring. I never knew how much I missed them until after we all went our separate ways home. These were people who not only left a dent in my life but altered it. I don’t think I would view the world the same way had I not been exposed to the quirks of my first “work family.” And I hope it stays that way. Like love, nothing beats your first job. I was lucky with my first, even luckier with the people I got to work with. I hope my streak continues, if not in my career, than at least with the people I spend my days with.