The bluest sky

There are three books on my bedside table: Lords and Ladies (Terry Pratchett), Brooklyn (Colm Toibin), and A Single Man (Christopher Isherwood.)  A fantasy, a literary fiction, a gay novel.  I've been reading them on alternates, depending on my mood, since I got here, which was two weeks ago.  Funny how time crawled in two weeks, I feel like I've been here for a long time with a life that's not exactly called living.

In two weeks, I've been to the bookstore thrice.  And always, always, I came out with books bought and purchased.  I've become familiar with the shelves already, how the books are arranged and where things are placed.  I knew where to go the third time I was there.  Although it was still big enough that I could stay for a day without getting bored.  It was a place for books after all; it was enough to get me entertained, a world I could easily get lost into.  And there's Starbucks inside and, unlike the Fullybooked in BHS, I could bring books and magazines and read them while having coffee.  Or I could bring coffee and pastries to the chairs and sofas and tables that are scattered all over the book shop.  It also has free WiFi.  I could stay there and not leave.  My parents would tell me to just read the books in Starbucks so I would not have to buy any.  They do it, they told me.  They'd go there every Sunday, pick up the book they've been reading and read from where they've left it.

Well, I like that and I'll probably do that someday.  When I find a book that's good enough to read, but not to own.  I tucked it in in one of those things I have to do while I'm here.  A to-do list I started thinking about a few days ago.  This getting-out-of-a-rut thing is proving to be trickier than I had imagined.  And it'll probably take a lot longer than I would've wanted.  Impatient as I am to get into a more comfortable place, I would've to bear this while taking baby steps where necessary.

Like jogging.  I got back to it a few days ago.  I put on my running shoes and jogged around the village, intent on mapping out the terrain and making myself acquainted to the place.  It was when I was running that I realized how it feels like to be a prisoner in your own castle.  The two gates that lead out to the whole wide world is inaccessible to pedestrians.  Only cars, registered to the village, can easily go in and out of the gates that open and close automatically.  (Guest cars have a different entrance with guards on it.)  The walkways that lead to the gates end up on closed doors and fences, which, when I've inquired, remain always closed.

On the outside, this is an enviable life.  I have all the material comforts that anyone could ever want.  I have two laptops and four cellphones that keep me connected and reachable anytime.  I don't have to worry about their bills because I don't pay for them.  I don't have to think about stocking food because there's always food.

But.

This was reminiscent of the life I had decidedly left behind when I had gone from Bicol to Manila.  It's comfortable but constricting.  I could not move without my actions being considered and scrutinized.  There are all sorts of questions to be answered on even the simplest of matters.  Why do you want to enroll in a gym?  Why are you always on your Blackberry or on your iPhone?  And the fact that I hardly know anyone, except relatives I'd rather not see make it all the more stultifying.  This was the straight life, the old life I knew I never wanted.

I know I can never come out to my parents.  They're more conservative than the Pope.  They'd probably bathe me in holy water.  And my relatives must not know.  They are as conservative as my parents and they're always on the lookout for something that could be thrown and used against me.  Even going as far as making outrageous lies and stories just to destroy me.  If they find out I'm gay--and they will, eventually--they'd feast on me.  Patting themselves on the back for finally finding something wrong about me.

This was the main reason why I had gone to Manila for college in the first place.  If and when they find out, I want to be as far away from them as possible.  For inasmuch as I don't give a damn about what they say and what they think about me, it'd be very ugly to have their bigotries thrown in my face.  And I could not get out or runaway because the gates and the fences are closed.  It's different when you're far away from them rather than trapped in a life you have no wish of living.  It's easier not to give a damn and what they think when you're a hundred miles away from them.  When there's a distance that separates you and not just a door without a lock.

Jogging was a way of getting back to my feet, literally.  It gave me time to consider my options, limited as they are at the moment.  But I would push for the things I want.  My parents have always known I'm stubborn.  When I want something, I turn the world upside down to get it.  It's simple, what I want.  I want my life.  Not this kind of life that's straighter than a ruler, more cloistered than a nun.

There's a to-do list, more than a list of things to keep me busy.  Moreover, a list of small steps to get me to where I want to be.  Not the princess in the castle, up above the tower, looking over her window, staring and wondering about the whole wide world, wishing and hoping that she was out there instead.

There's a reason why Ariel wanted to be part of this world and not under the sea.  It's not so much as meeting your prince charming, but more of having two feet to be able to stand and walk and run.  For despite the wonders of the sea, nothing beats the open air and a blue sky that's infinitely high and clear.  There's freedom in being comfortable with your own skin, without the scales wrapped around your legs, which could make you swim, but could hardly make you breathe.

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