Hometown Heroes // Pt. 1

 

This past July, I went down to Duval (Jacksonville, FL for those unfamiliar with its more colloquial name) and spent quality time with some of my biggest mentors. Read on to learn a bit on these amazing people and their impact on my life so far.

Nina and Jordan Acedera


Then

I remember meeting Nina and Jordan when they were sophomores in college — I was most definitely a sophomore in high school at that time. Through someone I was dating at the time, I would always end up studying and hanging out at their dorm, hence the “Dormies Era.”

It was the first time I ever hung out late at night for Sonic or Dairy Queen runs, went to Applebee’s for Halloween, and had hand-rolled liquid nitrogen ice cream. It was the time of 5K marathons, Thanksgiving camping trips (also known as “Thankscamping”), and all-day pillow talks. It was simultaneously lazy and productive. It was average to some but to me it was exciting, simply because it was my first real hint of college.

Nina and Jordan were always there for me. When I met them, they were Ate Nina and Kuya Kane, respectively, and still are. Like most Filipino networks, their families were also somehow intertwined with mine (maybe not by blood but definitely in the extended sense) — so we’d always run into each other at events. They always had a sense of humor, listened to happy vibe music, and possessed talents I didn’t think could be talents (for example, Pinterest as a profession rather than a hobby). Ate Nina used to sing with me between study breaks, and Kuya Kane didn’t even go to the same college as the dorms we stayed at, but he would commute at least once a week just to cook and hang out with everyone. I remember one time we made a makeshift ramen recipe and makeshift mojitos to match, then proceeded to watch Pan’s Labyrinth…Needless to say, that was a strange concoction for the conscience.

But all this aside, I say “always there” because not only did I meet them in their early years as a couple or because I always knew where to find them; I say it because even as individuals they have both provided nothing short of a nurturing atmosphere when they honestly didn’t have to take me in at all.

One of the most pivotal moments I realized this was when I got into my first major car accident: my ex and I spun off a highway ramp on a rainy night and slammed into a tree while on the way to meet up with them. Nina and Jordan rushed home, cooked up some soup, grabbed a Steak n’ Shake milkshake, and got to the hospital we were at within an hour and some change. Thankfully no one was seriously hurt, but their quick response and genuine effort to make sure everything was okay, is something I’ve never forgotten.

Now


When we reunited again this past July, we had Thai food and played with their dogs at the new apartment. Jordan shared memes his coworkers made of one of his honeymoon photos, and Nina shared stories about her experiences as an elementary school teacher. They spoke about plans for the future regarding the military and living in a different city. They were full of hope and certainty all at once.

Though things had changed over the five years I’ve known them, it felt even more at home than ever. Seeing how they’ve grown and vice versa was a humbling reminder that despite things not always going to plan in life, even the most earnest efforts to move forward mean so much. There’s so much talk these days about how sometimes a degree doesn’t guarantee you the career you chose the major for in the first place.

But when I looked back on what these two went through to get to where they are, and saw an even brighter future of where they’re going, it all made sense.

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