I never liked going to social events until I graduated from high school.
I only forced myself out of my comfort zone repeatedly by attending parties and joining in conversations I had no interest in. It was mainly because I wanted to fit in my circle of friends.
I met them when I was in seventh grade and I guess the rest of all subsequent events became history.
We’ve all been friends for six years and they have been the best of friends I could ever have.
I had been so attached to them that there were times when I suddenly have bursts of fear thinking about if I were to lose them.
I thought that if I did everything they were doing, they would eventually accept me as one of them, but I never thought that as a consequence it would also break me in the process.
My friends were very fond of going to parties and so did I, borne out of my sincere longing to blend in, even if I hadn’t really wanted to go.
I purposely mingled with the crowd to save myself from humiliation and awkwardness if I stayed alone at a corner.
I tried to mimic how other people spoke and acted at every social gathering but even though I had managed to learn all of those skills, it never really came natural to me.
All my efforts proved futile and I was always drained of energy and left confused about my identity as my peers called me killjoy, with some even alluding to my apparent aversion to socializing.
As I approached the end of my senior year of high school, I contemplated about whom I was as a person and who I really wanted to become.
Hence, it came to happen that, instead of trying to fit in with the crowd, I focused on establishing myself as someone with value and confidence.
Eventually, I learned to decline invitations to gatherings that I had no interest in and having done that, I also learned surprisingly that my friends would still stay with me despite our differences.
Somehow, I had not totally regretted joining them in those parties because, as I looked back, there was this time when they unknowingly showed me a hidden pocket of the universe and because of that I never saw life the same way ever again.
In one of those parties, it was ten in the evening and I was drenched in sweat. My jeans and socks were sweaty and I smelled horrible.
My friends and I had just arrived from Tagaytay from celebrating K’s birthday and we decided to go to K’s boyfriend’s house so we could have an after-party.
I could not stop feeling relieved as we were leaving the place, speeding through the rainy streets.
Unconsciously, my smile was spreading wider and I really should have stopped lest my friends would think that I was a lunatic looking amused at something without any reason at all.
We could barely see the road as we travelled through the pelting rain.
I started to feel my exhaustion had begun to creep over my tired body and I knew I would have to find a nice alibi to stay away from them sooner.
With the night getting quite late, we were still only half way to M’s (K’s boyfriend) house. I was fervently hoping that someone would call off the party because I was already dead tired.
Still I couldn’t muster up the courage to decline so I just went with them and chose to sit in silence inside F’s (another friend) car.
We went inside a subdivision and it took us several minutes to get to M’s house. As the car lurched to a stop, I immediately opened the door and went out.
The insides of my sneakers got wet as I was splashed with the puddles of water on the street. The rain had now weakened and continued to drizzle softly above.
We went inside M’s house and dried ourselves. We were all drenched in sweat and of rain. Even though parties were not my thing, somehow I felt some joy going there for some reasons.
Since M’s parents were out of town, we had the house to ourselves.
One of my friends went to the kitchen to prepare food and then two of my other friends went to a convenient store to buy drinks.
As soon as our friends came back from the convenient store, our little party begun. It wasn’t really what you would normally call a party.
We only watched several movies as we drink and we occasionally exchanged pleasant stories in between lulls.
It was the kind of gathering that I would be happy to be a part of. There were no blinding lights but just slightly a dimmed glow soothing my tired eyes.
There were no blaring sounds to assault my ears. The only sound that filled the room was coming from the movie and our occasional laughter. I would say that I was genuinely happy at that time.
At around one in the morning, we all felt full with the amount of food and drinks we had completely consumed and we also got bored of watching movies.
Some of my friends then decided to play basketball in the nearby court in the subdivision after we cleaned the house and ourselves.
I decided to sleep on the couch because my eyes were already closing from exhaustion and lack of sleep. After an hour or so, I woke up to the gentle taps on my shoulder.
My friends were waking me up.
They looked so thrilled; for a second I thought that they were playing a prank on me but when I asked them what was happening, one of them told me to get inside the car.
I still felt somewhat dazed and confused at that time and I didn’t have the energy to argue with them so I decided to follow.
I was too confused to go back to sleep in the car. I thought that we were going back somewhere noisy again but then I noticed that the road we were taking seemed quite familiar.
Then and there I knew where we were going but what I didn’t expect was where specifically we would go.
We parked inside the Tropicana Garden City Condominium and we immediately went inside the building. The security guards greeted us and asked us to sign the logbook for security measures.
I remembered quite well going inside this building a few months ago because F owned one of the units in this building.
We went inside the elevator and pushed the button for the 17th floor and I was pretty dumbfounded because I remembered that F’s unit was at the 10th floor.
I was thinking that we were going to someone else’s unit but I was wrong. Instead, we headed to the fire exit and proceeded to the top floor.
It was pretty dark and I got scared of the dark hall that we had to pass through.
We ended up at a staircase leading to a huge door and I thought about what could be behind the door and thought of eerie things.
We ended up at the rooftop of the building, right on time for the sunrise. We climbed up the huge cages that were installed there for laundry purposes. I took my time breathing in everything.
It was as if I was no longer in the city where I lived but in another dimension altogether.
Everything was so beautiful. My friends and I just lied on top of the cages and stayed quiet, admiring how beautiful the sky was, the skyline, the morning dew, and the rising sun.
The sky was vast and a soft blue overhead. It was the sort of place I had always dreamed of. It was a hidden pocket of the universe and it became mine.