Friday, October 15, 2010

Friendship Friday: Armie

When I was I elementary school in the Philippines, we used to play long jump at recess. The object of the game was to jump a particular distance, and we usually used someone’s shoe to measure. If any part of your body touched the starting line or the distance marker, you were out. We always started at three shoes. Each player took a turn jumping, and once everyone had a turn, the next round started, and the marker moved another three shoes (keep in mind, we were 8/9-year olds, and Filipinos had small feet).

The first few rounds were really easy, and most of us were very silly in the beginning. Some would take a running start, stop inches before the starting point, and just step over the marker. Some would just casually walk over it. Still others would create elaborate steps and dance movements and dainty walks, just to get over the marker. And so it went, until the first person was out, then we started to get serious.

If you got OUT, you can call on someone to “save” you, and if that person clears it, you are safe. If, on the other hand, the “saver” touches any of the markers, you are out and so is the “saver”. The only time you couldn’t be saved was when there were only two players left.

Now, those of you who know me know that I am not an athlete, and I have never been. However, not one for being left out, I always played long jump. Of course, I never took it seriously, I played just to fit in. I never even had to put any effort in it, because there was one classmate who always saved me.

Armie, even in back in second grade, was the most athletic person I knew. She could outrun, outjump, out-hit, out-DO all the girls AND ALL THE BOYS in our grade, and I, like the rest of my classmates, was in awe of her. I used to LOVE to watch her -- I was sure she was flying! She absolutely excelled at recess! She was also one of my closest friends, and I knew I could count on her to save me if I asked her to. And because I often asked Armie to save me, I often took second or third place, and we all knew that Armie would take first. In every game, though, I always got out, albeit towards the end.

There's only one time in my recollection that I didn't get out. It was in 4th grade, and the distance to jump was at least three times my height. I remember thinking, “How in the world did I get this far in the game? I can’t jump that far! (but in Tagalog of course, because my English at the time was not quite so extensive)” I was just about to give up when Armie grabbed my arm and said, “JoAnn you HAVE to try. I can’t save you if you don’t even try.”

So I went back as far as I could, took a running start, and at the right place, closed my eyes and took a giant leap. I was airborne for what felt like an eternity, and then one foot touched the ground, and then the other, and I ended up in a crouched position. I opened my eyes, and there was the marker – at least a yard in front of me, and I was crestfallen. Then I heard her say the words: “ I’ll save you. If you ask me to, I will save you. Trust me.”

And so I said, “Save me!” and got out of the way. Armie took a running start, and then she flew, and landed effortlessly on the other side, clearing the distance with room to spare. With a big grin, she ran to me and cried, “See, you’re saved!”

Just then the bell rang to end recess, which meant the game was over. I remember being on cloud nine the rest of that day because for once in my life, I was not out, because a friend had saved me.

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