If there’s anyone who doesn’t believe in second chances, it is my friend Madelyn. And if there’s anyone who has given up in making her see that it’s worth a try, it’s me.
I call her Mad, especially when she’s gregariously hyper which is most of the time. The name stuck.
We were the best of friends. The start of the school year, when Madelyn transferred at St. Clements in 5th Grade, our teacher, Ms. Gozon, seated her next to me. I instantly envied her pink Barbie-fad school bag which my parents said was too fancy for me and too expensive for them. Being her seatmate was not my only duty. Ms. Gozon appointed me to show Madelyn around, as well as make everybody her friend. I was the top student and my teachers had all the confidence on me.
Madelyn was so timid shy which my classmates took as being snobbish. And so I was stuck to be her only friend for the first few months. Months became years. From high school to college. We were inseparable.
I still can’t figure out how two totally different individuals who came from two extreme ends of society can remain friends for so long.
Madelyn’s family was devastatingly rich. And yes, you figure it out, we were poor. My parents lived and scraped for my allowance, and that of my two siblings. Good thing, I had Madelyn then who share her meals, and I, who share her my dreams.
College even strengthened our friendship. Somehow, I infected Madelyn with my study habits telling her that I may not have her luxury but I am bound to experience them soon after I graduate. She wagered and said, the first thing she’ll do when she does was learn to be independent. To live on her own. And so we burned night oils, and celebrated galore after every exam all expenses paid by Madelyn’s enormous credit limit. What would rich parents give their child who do well in school, anyway?
We were taking the same course, Clothing Technology. I chose it because my Mom is a seamstress so I feel that it’ll be a breeze to sew fashion. As for Madelyn, fashion was her style. No sweat for her.
But on the drawing table, I was better. Imagination, Madelyn was tops. Texture was my forte. Complementing it was hers. Making it work was mine. Making it saleable, hers.
Madelyn and I were not the best in class. But we were challengers. Two heads is better than one, they say. For us, it was verily true. We were happy just for knowing that in whatever we do, we can make it work because we did it together.
Until we landed on our dream job.
But Madelyn’s Dad wanted her to be part of their family enterprise; they own all kinds of things that float on water — ships, cruises, boats. All things sailing. She turned it down and went jobseeking with me.
We were hired by an international brand of jeans. Madelyn and I were separated by feasibilities, immersions and roadshows. One time, when we were both working at the office, celebrating our 1st year of regularization, Madelyn came to me and said, “Pam, why don’t we put up a boutique, you and I.”
I told her, it’s not yet time. We still have lots to learn.
But Madelyn wanted to be all independence. And so she resigned from work and put up her boutique. Her efforts, her funds, her imagination and selling ability went to “Lines”, a high-fashion minimalist trend of clothing sold exclusively in the most exclusive Class-A-catering malls and getting publicity dressing up news anchors and top actors.
She didn’t foresee competitors though. Foreign and new local brands all too willing to get the media endorsement. And her style was getting obsolete every minute.
I was in Hong Kong when I got her phone call.
“Pam, I’m closing the boutique,” she said with a sob. “I’m drained and I’m all spent out. Energy, effort and enthusiasm. And I’m not happy anymore.”
“But you know business, the first few years is the toughest. Ask your Dad!”
“That’s what I did. He said it’s time for me to join him. Manage the company. I already said yes.”
“A-are you sure? Let’s do it together, this time. Revive Lines!”
“I don’t know Pam… You weren’t there when I started. You don’t even know how hard it was for me to do it all alone. I’m sorry but somehow, I feel that your helping hand is a bit too late. I have lots of last last year’s inventory still waiting to be sold. It’s too late.”
“Madelyn… there’s still time. Fashion is a mindset and you know it. Lines has been a word of mouth and your giving up now?”
“Lines is not making sales anymore, Pam. I don’t even know where to get the money to pay my employees! It’s over for me now, Pam. But thanks. You know how I want you to know that I tried.”
“I’m sorry, Madelyn, if I wasn’t there when you started Lines but I’m for you now.”
“It’s too late Pam, too late. I’m closing shop.”
The last time I heard from Madelyn, she said there’s a corner in two of their luxury ships that still sell Lines. Those last pieces that were unsold.
As for me, I have become my own designer setting up a small made-to-order gowns and dresses shoppe.
And patiently in wait for Madelyn to finally make what we have dreamed of a reality, for her to call me and say “Let’s pursue our dream! Dress the world in style and be happy!”
Or maybe, she already did, without me. Too scared that I’ll fail her, again.