Yesterday was my youngest brother's first day of high school. He and my dad were here in Manila for a few days (Dad stopping over on a business trip to Thailand, Momon tagging along just for fun). While little in our dynamic's changed, I get subtle hints that he's turning into his own person, and I feel bad that I'm missing out.
The last time I was home, it was his toying with the idea of introducing himself to girls with his second name, Gabriel, and not as the Mon/Momon/Ramon he's been to us since his babyhood. My first instinct as an older sibling was to ridicule him, of course, but I remembered all the names I made up for myself at his age, remembered how I liked my nickname change when I entered college, and thought better. Let him be Gabriel if he wants, I figured.
This time it was just the fact of sharing the same space, in Manila for once, and not in Kalsangi. The last time he was here, he was around six or seven. This was before I left for college and our middle sibling Mikko followed after. Now, aware of him following a few paces behind, I can't help wishing I could see things through is eyes. I wonder how our little trip from Paranaque to Quezon City to see Alvi's truck, how walking from mall to mall, and how lazing around in Merville have colored his ideas of the city where his siblings have been living apart from him all these years. Does our being here make him want to be here, too? Does the city have some pull on him that it never had on me?
I wish I knew what Mon was thinking, wish we could somehow talk and bridge the physical and emotional gaps. But when you're a 13-year-old boy with a new PSP and a ton of friends and high school just beginning, catching up with your 22-year-old sister working far away must be the last thing on your mind.
I wish I could be home to see this, to see my brother in this part of his life. I mean, with Mikko, there was always an overlap; I was always a senior at the same time he was a freshman, and even if we didn't see each other, I could still get some sense of how he was doing because he was in the area. When we got to have lunch together, I'd get to see who he was without our parents around. When I found out he started a tumblog, I followed just to see what he likes and how he expresses himself.
To learn about my other brother Momon, I have to read between the lines of Mom's worried e-mails and his friends' adolescent Facebook posts and, when he's around, watch him only out of the corner of my eye lest he get all self-conscious. I'm waiting, just waiting for him to break out with something of his own, something that will tell me what he wants, where he'd like to go, and who he is and wants to be.
But, eh. He's 13. Yesterday was his first day of high school. I think I'm going to have to wait a while longer. I'm looking forward to it (whatever it is), though.