Yes, I'm gay. I probably was since the day I was born. On my 21st birthday, I sort of had my debut. I came out to my parents. A little drama from mom, and some indifference from dad. An above-average coming out. Almost perfect.

Nine years later, two weeks before my 30th birthday, I found out... I'M HIV POSITIVE.

And so my story begins... I'm BACK IN THE CLOSET.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Graduation Day

It’s Tuesday, the start of another workweek. It was a holiday yesterday. So after a long, cold, rainy weekend, it was going to be tough to get into work mode.

But today, I decided last minute… as in after taking a shower and dressing up… to make a detour onto the path of my past.

Blame my current workplace, they suddenly decided to get some pre-employment requirements from everyone, even those who’d been with the company for years on end. I’m one of the newbies, so I had most of mine. Except one. My diploma.

I never got my diploma. No toga. No ceremony. No nothing. Don’t get me wrong, I finished my degree. Albeit taking three extra years. Well, I blame Happy-150th-Birthday-Jose-Protacio-Rizal-Mercado-y-Alonso-Realonda himself because I failed his subject so many times. And I blame ROTC, whose irrelevance to life was just not giving me enough sense to finish. So three years after I should’ve, I finally passed Rizal, and ROTC got reduced to two semesters, and I finally graduated. Whoopee!

And I think that was a factor. I was a bit ashamed to suddenly show up at my college three years late, claiming my diploma. Not exactly something to be proud of. So I just got my Transcript from the Registrar’s Office, which was all that I needed thus far, for work and whatnot. Until now.

So today, I took the turn to a different yet familiar destination. I soon realized that familiarity was not only about location… it’s also about time. And here, I’m not talking about days, not months, not just a couple of years. I’m talking 7 years after settling my clearance, and 9 years since my last enrollment. So things had changed.

Just getting there, I no longer knew. Where exactly is the jeepney terminal? Which line is it? Did the route change? Where can I get off? Where are the jeepney stops? Thankfully, I got there without having to ask, or even look stupid.

First stop the Registrar’s Office. It was in a new building that wasn’t there yet when I was still in school. So I had to find it. I was led by the guard to the Records Section. I waited. Soon, the window opened, and I asked if I could get my diploma there. Asked when I graduated, whether I’d been cleared, and what documents I had, I was told I should claim it at my College. Fine. I am not a coward. I am not a coward. Brrrrr.

I guess my biggest fear has been seeing someone I know who would ask me what I’ve been up to. Hmm, nope, I’m not anyone’s boss. Nope, I don’t work for a big multinational company. Nope, I’m not even practicing my degree anymore. Yes, I’m still rank and file. And yes, my biggest achievement might just be that I’m now HIV positive. Not exactly the most ideal spiel.

The stroll across the picturesque campus to my old College building may have helped calm me down. Climbing the front steps, the guard at the gate asked for an ID. Okay, security has changed as well. I asked what time the office of the college head opens, instead he pointed me to another room. Apparently, even that had transferred.

The office was still closed, and a bunch of students were outside. I tried not to let the generation gap stick out. Allow me to say I think I can still pass for a college student. Time ticked away, the students left for class, and still it was closed. Hmm. Good thing I walked towards the old Admin Office, relieved to see that it was still where it used to be.

I walked in and saw familiar faces, still the ladies who always used to be there. I’m pretty sure though they didn’t recognize me. So I asked if I could claim my diploma there. Bingo. She took my transcript and asked what year I graduated. I told her the year I last enrolled.

She approached a cabinet and pulled out a diploma jacket and a binder, and started leafing through the pages. Back and forth, back and forth. She asked me what year again, and if I was sure. Honestly, I wasn’t. She even asked for an ID to prove I was the same person. Fine. Still nothing. I was beginning to sweat. Did I not graduate after all?

Finally she was approached by one of her colleagues, asking what the problem was. She took my ID and searched the computer database. Okay, my year was right. And in a few minutes, they found it. I was hearing the graduation march in my head. I was in disbelief. Not much hassle. A single trip. A couple of hours. No payments made. That’s it. It’s done.

I walked to where I could have it photocopied. And honestly, I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face the whole time. It was a gutsy day. A gutsy move. And I’m officially a diploma-holder. Should I frame it? Should I give it to my mom? Oi, I was giggling.

I was actually so proud at the time that I wanted to treat myself with a day off from work. Watch a movie maybe. Go home and sleep. Workout. But my pride was prize enough. So I shook it off, and just hopped on a bus to work, which is where I am now.

Obviously, I’m still caught up in the excitement because I’ve managed to blog instead of work. But hey, gimme a break. This is the closest I’ve gotten to my graduation day.


Anonymous said...

Congratulations! Love the piece!

From a fan,

Anonymous said...

ahaha! I claimed both my transcript and my diploma five years after grad. I was too lazy.