Everyone I used to hang out with had other plans this weekend, and I found myself with some time on my hands, to do with as I pleased.
It was an unfamiliar feeling. At first, I was restless and bored witless. I did take home some work but felt there should be more to life than work, so I set that aside for later. Much later.
I made a list of things to do this weekend and went through the list one by one, as my book “When There’s Not Enough of Me to Go Around” suggested. It’s a book written by perfectionists for perfectionists, and when a friend of mine learned that I bought such a book to help me cope with my perfectionism, she said, “How perfectionist is that?”
I thought it was the perfect time to sort through my clutter in the store room to make way for my plans of moving into my own place this quarter. Before I realized it, I was knee-deep in papers, letters, and souvenirs, further proof of what a packrat I was. My mom was only too happy to see me throw away old reviewers and case digests. I was unwilling to let go of them for years until I realized that they might no longer be good law, and remembered that I worked for a company that specialized in digital archiving. I should walk my talk, anyway if I needed any case, law, issuance, or commentary, they were available in our office database. So out went a balikbayan box-full of law school notes and other materials.
I found it weird that pests got to some of my most precious memories – my only article that came out in Kerygma and my only published paper in the Philippine Law Journal – but stayed away from the most trivial of documents such as scratch papers and doodle pads. I saved what I could of the magazines and journals, and vowed to buy those huge plastic containers with wheels and handles that were anti-flood,- termite, -cockroach, and -mice.
I was probably the last of my law school batch to let go of my photocopied materials, and I did not even have the heart to let everything go. How could I throw away the witty and fascinating reviewers prepared by A’-99, my block, which reached law students all the way to University Belt even years after we had left law school? All the memories from those years came back, of recitations and digests that shaped me into the lawyer that I am now. I remembered the people who helped me prepare for the bar through tips, reviewers, forms, and books. I remembered and I smiled. I could look back at those years and not feel incomplete anymore. I had moved on from the failure of the 1999 bar to the drama of the 2000 bar. I could face my blockmates again, and I did, a month ago, in Makati, and I did not feel that their love for me had changed.
It was I who had changed. I was no longer just Ella, the Obiter Master (my self-proclaimed title everytime I prepared a case digest with a Calvin and Hobbes footer, or did the lay-out of a finals reviewer with a Star Wars theme). I was Ella, the renewed Christian, more radical, passionate, and idealistic than I ever was.
I slowly moved to the files from my law firm days at Tan and Venturanza, and decided to keep them all. I went through my folders from the Sandiganbayan – of notes and summaries I had made on different crimes – and decided not to throw away all the efforts I exerted in preparing for those cases. I saw some files from my Privatization and Management Office days, all six months’ worth, and put them back into the cabinet.
I even saw grade school memories, college notes, files from my different organizations and councils, and kept some of them, for it always made me smile when I looked back at how life had been – how full, how challenging, and how rewarding.
It takes me a while before I let go of people and things. That’s who I am. And after several years of Lingkod, just Lingkod, both comfort and joy, sorrow and pain, I finally looked at the rest of the world and tried to re-integrate myself. For I am not just a sum of different parts – of the past, present and future, – no, I am a complete person wherever I am.
There is one identity I’m sticking to, hopefully until forever, and that is, Child of God.
Everything else is just an effect thereof.