The one bright spot about being in Singapore was that my parents promised me a trip back to Manila for my birthday in May. I was going to graduate with my class. I literally counted the days in my journal, and they passed at a snail’s pace. When I wasn’t in school, I learned how to bake. A lot. I made pies and homemade bread. I spent hours by the pool behind our house. I mourned and stewed in my misery. One boy at SAS paid a little attention to me; we went out on a few dates and I will always remember him for making my life in Singapore a little happier.
We flew to Manila on my birthday, May 22. If I could have gotten out of the plane to push it to make it go faster, I would have. My feet hit Philippine soil, and they were off and running. We were staying at the Peninsula Hotel this time, and no sooner had we checked into the hotel I was downstairs, hailing a cab. I pulled up to my old school and ran inside, completely over the moon to be back again. I spotted my best friend, Leslie, in the hall, and we literally fell over in an ecstatic, screaming hug. Several of my old friends hailed me in the hall with "Hi LIZ!" and "Look who's back!!" The prom was the next evening, and Leslie had fixed me up on a blind date, with a guy who had just moved to Manila that past January. (My smoldering Eurasian ex-crush had already left for the summer -- I didn't see him again until I was in my 20's .. but that's a completely different story!) My date’s name was David, and he was G-O-R-G-E-O-U-S. We're talking tall dark and handsome, with curly brown hair, deep set eyes and a killer smile. Who gave blind dates such a bad name, I ask you?
He picked me up prom night, presenting me with a beautiful pink lei, which he had coordinated with my dress (so THAT'S why he asked me what my dress looked like?) I can't remember the theme of the dance, just that we danced the night away in a euphoric haze. When the prom was over, the four of us (Leslie and her date joined us) took a cab downtown to Manila Bay and stood soaking in the night air and watching the lights flickering on the water like undulating jewels. The wind was warm, and the palm trees whispered in the breeze. We didn't say much, I just had to stand there and let Manila back under my skin.
I was back home.
After a night of disco hopping, it was sunup before we got back to my hotel. I had been given a liberal curfew (as in none!) by my parents. I slept most of the next day, but had to report for graduation rehearsal late in the afternoon. My friends and I spent the evening together again at Leslie's house and we took in a movie. I think it was Saturday Night Fever.
The day after that was the actual ceremony ... when I stepped up to the stage to receive my diploma, I knew that the folder was empty; the school had mailed me my diploma back in January. But that didn't matter. I was happier at that moment than I think I had ever been, nor have been since.
After a week, I had to say good-bye to the Philippines. It was back to Singapore for a little while, but another adventure was just around the bend. I had been offered a job in London with a British family as nanny for their two children, and was going to take a college class at Richmond College there. Heady times, indeed.