When I was small, a cousin told me that unlike other kids I would definitely have no problem being left alone. Now one can say that any kid can be like that as long as there’s internet or perhaps a gaming console. In fact they’re going to love that. But no, these were the early nineties. Those were the days when internet was not yet very accessible to the public (at least in the Philippines) and the cool gaming devices needed to be plugged in to power outlets and make use of your television set for display. So unless you got parents who were rich enough to pay enormous electric bills, fun time for kids happen at the yard chasing each other and playing various games of pretend. But that was just something that never really applied to me. I was most of the time okay on my own.

I used to be the youngest child in our compound and that’s probably how I learned to find ways to entertain myself while everyone’s away to attend school and work and my mom’s busy doing house chores. I also very rarely went beyond the fences. Not that it was really forbidden, but I just felt a lot comfortable staying within the boundaries of our home. That’s why I very rarely had the chance to play with other kids in the block as well. Now couple preferring being confined at home with my silence and happy countenance and my neighbors got every reason to assume that I was pretty special. But I’m not. At least not genetically. I just constantly need time alone. I’m an introvert.

Fast forward 17 years and I just came from a badminton match with my friends and officemates. I was supposed to go home with my girlfriend but she sent me a message that she needed to stay longer in their office. It was already a quarter before midnight on a Wednesday and I just had to go home for there will be office the following day. So I walked alone like the usual. Not really wanting to go home.

I always take night strolls alone. It clears my mind, and gives me freedom to think and observe people. The city at night is like a parallel universe where everything looks the same but totally different underneath. And I find it more welcoming. I could have, but never really worried about getting mugged while walking alone nearly empty alleys. Silence has always been a good friend and I just could not bring myself to worry in its company. Late at night with faint lights coming from light posts everywhere, you’d feel the city silently doze off and the whole place begins to be your domain; your biggest comfort zone. You would come across a number of people but they won’t really see you. It was like being in a playhouse when all spectators already went home. The whole stage is yours. You could bask in the glory of the city lights and be the king for a while.

So I walked alone in a shirt I got from an IT event that’s quite large for me and the short shorts I used for the game; something I think nobody would normally wear while walking the streets of Makati, one of the country’s business centers. But I did it nevertheless. It was near midnight. Nobody would really see. See, I don’t like my legs very much. They are hairy and rather scrawny that they appear long. Wearing my short shorts anybody could mistake me for some queer guy on his nightly round but it was okay. Walking in solitude in a silent night, all my inhibitions were lessened. The city was mine.

I paid a visit to a nice friend at a mini-mart and bought a drink. In my humble domain, everybody’s a friend. Even the rats that could pass for young cats lurking on the sidewalks were welcome. Somehow everything was pleasant.

I could not vividly recall what I was thinking about then. All I remember was considering sitting awhile at the deserted park but I didn’t have time to spare ’cause I needed to get home to steal a few hours of sleep for tomorrow’s work and I was an hour and a half away from there. I decided I’d do my thinking and re-charging while I walk.

I got into a cab which cost me 55 pesos for a very short distance then I boarded the bus. Surprisingly, late as it was I still had to stand for half of the trip ’cause all the seats were taken. Again, it was okay. I was in my element. Once again, I’ve satisfied my quirk. -aB


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