Tuesday 4th June 2013by Tina
I didn’t want to be there. I didn’t feel like going to that church activity where I knew no one, and going to the first day meant I have to be there for the next two days and I would really just rather stay at home and do nothing. That’s what summer vacations are for — especially this summer, my shortest summer before I start college — doing nothing.
But being the youngest in the family meant I had to do things that my older brother didn’t want to do, or tried to do but didn’t really follow through. My parents attempted to make my brother attend the same thing they’re sending me to five years ago, when he can finally attend it. He went, stayed a bit, but never returned. I remember my mom trying to convince him to go back, but I don’t know how he found ways to get out of it. I would have done the same thing, too, but every time I try, I get this warning look from my mom and I lose all the nerve to try and convince her to let me stay home.
So that Friday, on the summer after senior year in high school and before freshman year in college, I found myself at our parish, trying not to count the hours until I can be home again, and stay in our air conditioned room and not in the stifling, hot multipurpose hall of our parish, with about twenty other boys and girls my age.
“Hi, is this seat taken?”
I looked up and there stood this boy with a huge smile on his face. He gestured to the empty seat beside me. I had seated on the third row from the front, by the side, so as not to call any attention. But from the looks of the empty rows in front of me, I would probably be asked to move to the front later on, but I wasn’t going to budge just because. I’m not being stubborn; I am just fine where I sat.
So there was this boy. “No, it’s not.” I said, shaking my head.
“Is it okay if I sit here?”
I nodded, and moved my knees so he could pass. The boy settled down comfortably on the seat beside me, and while I’m kind of glad that my row is no longer that empty. As it turned out, the other people who were attending this thing knew each other, and I was one of the “newer” people. I’m not exactly shy, but it takes me a while to warm up to other people. I’m not exactly comfortable with jumping into groups that already know each other, so I usually stay by myself until I find someone I know, or when someone invites me over. And to think most of these kids live in the same village; I don’t know why I don’t know them. I wished my cousins lived closer, now. They would have been dragged here with me if they were, and it would have been easier.
“I’m Mark,” the boy said after a few moments of silence. I glanced at him and realized that he was actually introducing himself to me.
“Oh. Hi. I’m Rain.” I said, feeling a little shy. I’m not too good with new people.
“Cool name,” this new boy, Mark, said. “So do you like it?”
“Rain.“ Mark grinned at me, and I noticed that he had a really boyish, almost adorable grin. It was the kind that the younger cousins give us when they want to ask us favors. It was the equivalent of puppy-dog eyes, and my younger cousin Lyka was exceptionally good at it.
But Mark wasn’t begging to do anything. His smile was just open and friendly, and it was kind of hard not to smile back as I answered his question. “Actually, I don’t like the rain. My mom said I was born on an unnaturally rainy summer day so they called me ‘Rain’. Otherwise, I would have been named ‘Summer’.”
“That’s a good name, too. Summer,” Mark said with a thoughtful nod. “But Rain is catchy. And it only has one syllable.”
“And it’s definitely less boring than Mark,” he smiled at me again, and I laughed. “I think my parents weren’t too imaginative when they gave me a name.”
I wasn’t able to say anything else after that because the program started. I was half-expecting Mark to move to another group, especially when some boys entered the hall and took their seats. He knew them, based on how he nodded at them, but he didn’t leave his seat. I would like to think that he’s not leaving me, but who am I and who is he for me to make assumptions on that? But it was nice to have someone there, even if I barely knew him.
It was a full-day activity, and the facilitators grouped us for the smaller activities and discussions. Fortunately, I was put in the same group as Mark, so he still sat beside me come group activity time. By that time, I was able to talk to other people, too, but I noticed that while I struggled to talk to them, for Mark everything seemed flawless and easy. He’s either unnaturally friendly, or maybe it’s just the way he smiles at everyone. His smile really reaches his eyes, and he just seemed so cheerful that it’s hard not to be in a good mood when you talk to him. It’s like he’s got a basket full of happy vibes and he can’t wait to share it with everyone around him.
When the day was about to end, I was fixing my bag when Mark sat beside me again, all smiles. “Are you going home now?”
I nodded. “Yeah. My mom’s expecting a full report of this day, so I need to be there in time for dinner.”
“I’ll see you tomorrow, then? You will be back here tomorrow, right?” I gave him a glance, and was surprised to see how hopeful he looked, like he really meant what he said.
I nodded again. “Yes. I’ll be here. I’m pretty sure I will be here.”
Mark smiled his smile, the smile that’s made everyone so comfortable around him, the smile that’s led everyone to him, including me. “Good. I’m really glad to meet you, Rain.”