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No one really thinks their life will turn out just kind of okay.

And when it comes to opening a new chapter in life, expectations grow massively that I get scared more than motivated. The worst part for me, is the night before everything will change. Late night, and I get uneasy, not being able to sleep, anticipating what the following day will bring. And I would wake up minutes before my clock alarms, waiting for the dawn, waiting for that familiar wake up call. 

The time I dreamt the biggest in my life was the day I entered college. It got to me actually, making it in the premier university, able to wear jeans (and flip-flops), the freedom to cut class. That time I actually believed my life would start turning out the way I imagined it to be.

Thirty minutes before my first class, I spent my first day in college in front of the University Avenue, looking at the Oblation statue, the naked man in a fig leaf -- sacrificing one's self for his country. I thought of the sacrifices I made in the last seventeen years and figured out there weren't really much of it. Considering I'm entering the university with working overseas as a goal felt contrite and selfish on my part. 

I stood there for half a minute more when it started to rain. I felt big drops of cold water on my face as I ran towards a jeepney stop for a Toki ride.

That was when I first saw him.

From about ten to fifteen feet away, with outstretched feet and arms rested on both sides, he looked quite tall -- and wide, probably thin for his height. And from afar, he looked like a crane. But of course, that was just me as I had familiarized myself with the crane bird physique the way I am familiar with my feet.

One day, weeks before our high school graduation, I made a hundred paper cranes. We were supposed to give out something uniquely ourselves to other people before we all bid farewell, and I can’t think of anything else but those cute paper cranes I can do for quarter of a minute.

In the end, I managed to make a hundred of them. It wasn’t necessary, but I didn’t want to offend anybody just in case they give me their thing and I don’t have mine in hand. Or it’s probably that I got so caught up in making these paper maches I didn’t realize I wouldn’t be needing as much.

So now I have at home a box of 94 of them, all bright colored, glossy like those in a cosmopolitan magazine. Sometimes, I would get them out and line them altogether in my room, or make stories out of them, or open my box as I stand in my bed and make them fly.

As I ran towards the shed, and towards the crane guy, I noticed that he was looking at me too. And when I reached the shade, I pretended to look the other way but I guess he already noticed that.

It's interesting when raining and people run for shelter, they kind of smile, don't you think?

He had a soft voice, that surprised me. I wondered if he really noticed that with the people around the campus as they scamper for the closest shelter, or it had just been me. Smiling at his direction, or probably at him, thinking about a crane. 

Even if they're alone, like you. And he smiled sheepishly. Whattacutie.

I smiled back, and hoped my semi-soaked face won't sell my blushing.

What's your name? As I held out my hand.

Oh, a freshie huh. I didn't know why but there was something curious about me getting a handshake, and him saying exactly that.

I'm Laura. Laura Santos.

I'm Raf.

At the very least I got his name in time. This is me. I said, standing as a Toki jeep stopped by. I would have said my goodbye but when I looked at him again, he was staring at someplace else. 

He probably didn't realize it that time but he was my first friend in my new life chapter.

Later on the day, I would strike a conversation like he did with a complete stranger, quite a couple of times actually, but I never got their names.

And on several occasions in my life, I would open a conversation to a complete stranger as well, like he did, exactly like he did,  talking about the people smiling in the rain as they ran. But as far as my attempts are concerned, they remained as futile as my other tries on that first day in college.

Wear sunscreen or Sunscreen are common names of Mary Schmic's (1997) essay "Advice, like youth probably just wasted on the young." And popularized in the music single, Everybody's Free to Wear Sunscreen by Baz Luhrmann, 1998.

Lyrics after the jump.