Pigging out

QUITE RECENTLY we've taken to exploring other places for dinner, our way of escaping the round-the-clock strain of being in the hospital. Nothing can parallel the impact of food in bringing us together. Some blocks like movies or parties or traveling—but throw us any food, and we're happy.

We're making the best of what little time we have, relishing each night when we don't have to stay awake for 24 hours. After all, hard as it may be to believe, the era of the short, relatively light rotations—that is, Ortho, Rehab, Ophtha, and ORL—is ending soon.

We encounter each other in the daily grind of hospital life, and we probably know a whole lot more about each other than we should—for instance, our bowel movements for the day, which remains a favorite topic of morning conversation.  But eating out in a relaxed restaurant does wonders. People talk openly, share their frustrations and, better yet, humiliations. They talk of past and present relationships, present and future plans, and they talk of themselves in ways I wouldn't have imagined they would be capable of. To see each other in jeans, colorful shirts, or skirts outside the context of PGH offers a welcome change of scenery. Ah, to finally not see those white uniforms.

Like true friends, we laugh with each other, even if we find ourselves the very object of the joke. What used to be embarrassing moments are now timeless anecdotes, stories to be repeated once every so often, probably even after we graduate from med school, during our reunions, until the day we die.

So we had chicken wings last night, dipped in all sorts of sauces. We were stuffed. Of course we had clinical write-ups to finish for the morning, but we lingered along, killing time, talking about all sorts of things, walking along the dark alleys, discovering potential restaurants to visit, as we explored the uncharted corners of Manila. I realized then that while I may be with these people every day, I still have many things to discover about them. Which is probably why friendships last: every day you get to discover something new—the good and the bad, and everything else thrown in.

And what can be a better way to do that than over a hot plate of sisig or inihaw fresh from the grill? I wonder where we're going to eat next.

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