My elder sister was one year ahead of me in UP. During the first days or even weeks of school, I'd go to their tambayan to hang out and eat my baon. I thought that was the most natural thing to do. Be friends with her friends. After a few days she told me, in no uncertain terms, that I should find my own friends. And stop hanging out with her and her barkada.
Ouch. After having been quite popular in high school, I was suddenly this nobody, this invisible freshman, one of thousands. Since I wasn't comfortable with my blockmates yet, I was forced to roam Palma Hall alone.
But that didn't last. I resolved to start befriending my blockmates. And soon, I was hanging out with some of them, mostly those from the provinces. We all felt quite alone and we needed company. Beyond them, too, the block started to gel as one group. Though there were existing cliques, grouped by school, the shared experience of a boring Philosophy class, a challenging Botany course, and the ones in between (Psychology, English, Humanities) made it easy for us from such disparate backgrounds to stop being strangers.
We also decided to participate in those interblock contests. There were the volleyball and basketball competitions, both of which I avoided. But I joined the team in the Quiz bee (feeling brainy enough). More opportunities to bond as a block. And for me, I started to socialize more and my circle grew larger.
But I also started to turn my attention to the pretty ones in class. Psychology in UP always attracts some very pretty girls. I was determined to make ligaw. I wanted to know if I could do it: if I could have a girlfriend. And if it would silence the gay voice inside. I chose this sweet girl, cute and petite. Always in a skirt. She was always so nice to me anyway.
So torpe me did it the only way I knew how. I wrote her a letter. (Oh my, just thinking about that makes me cringe.) I professed my intention to get to know her better. (Ugh.) Thankfully, she turned me down in her sweet, sweet way. "I believe we are better off as friends." But though I still had a bruised ego, I felt my question was answered. No, I can't do it. I shouldn't do it. It's God's way of telling me that I should be myself, be my gay self. That first semester ended with more friends and some measure of peace.
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