Emmanuel is a classmate turned colleague.
We weren’t buddies in university. He was - how do I say this - elusive back in college. He was late to class. He wasn’t the most participative. I rarely interacted with him during the first two years I took subjects in their class. His blockmates would constantly tease him he was drunk. In fact, in my first year in liberal arts, I even thought he was gay. Emmanuel was always with girls. The one guy in their group of friends was gay. So I made the assumption.
But he isn’t gay.
Proof of which I even developed a crush on him when we were in third year. Like I’ve written countless times, I always fall for straight men. It was fleeting, however. Lasted only during the summer of our internship. Nothing special. Nothing amazing. Just the usual case of proximity misinterpreted as infatuation.
Fast forward to today. We’re colleagues. We’re on the same team. I’m sort of his boss. But he’s also sort of a buddy now. Whereas in university we didn’t really talk much, now he’s always bullying me around. Funny I suppose. Annoying at times. But quite enjoyable for the most part.
I underestimated Emmanuel back in college. Of course it didn’t help they labeled him a drunkard, and it also hurt a bit that he always seemed to be floating somewhere - either at choral practice or just hanging out with seemingly random people - dislocated from class reality, answering only when questioned, talking only when he had to fulfill his obligations as a class president. It’s only now that I’ve learned to appreciate him. No, I’m not falling for him. That is almost incestous to think. I just regret not having known who he really was back in university. He could have saved me from a lot of trouble.
Why am I writing about him? Because he deserves a space in my online journal.
He really is the kind of guy who floats. He never seems to be worried about anything, except of course when I’ve pissed him off, or someone else has. Not necessarily a free spirit. Near bohemian I guess. Or better yet, cool. Emmanuel is cool. And sensible. Never pretentious too, and literally never gives a fuck about what people think - at least that is how I see him. He has great taste in books. He’s got a great appreciation for music - from the Beatles, to ABBA, to Lady Gaga, to Broadway and opera, boy bands, rock and roll, blues, everything. He listens to all genres, and non-genres. He loves Mad Men. And Glee. The range is impeccable. Almost like a sponge absorbing anything. Hard to keep up with him.
But I like him more for being brutally honest. Yes, every now and then I get ticked off when he takes everything too lightly. But beneath the surface of his jokes, his “floating” nature, his levity, and his occasional elusiveness, Emmanuel is someone who won’t beat around the bush. He’ll tell you things as it is, the way he sees it - clarified and never oversimplified.
He doesn’t care if he does things on his own. He doesn’t mind if he’s off to a Japanese film festival without anyone to accompany him. Although it always seems he has some friend to meet up, or an extracurricular activity to attend to. Never goes home early. Sometimes suddenly he’s in some out-of-town trip or overnight drinking session with friends you’ve never heard of because he never talks too much about them. He never tells too much about what he’s doing in the first place, always keeps a part of himself private.
He never takes sides. Always at a distance but also always ready to give advice. Not really detached. But not heavily invested in the trivialities or nuances of human relations which often cause the sorrows in this world. Aware of meanings. Stubborn. Lazy. Seemingly indifferent. But in the know. He’s always there. He’s ever present, even though he’s also ever moving, floating, flying, singing, watching, drinking, and walking at a snail’s pace.
Emmanuel is always there. When you need him. When you want him. When a friend has to be there.