'Rain Room' installation

How to Fall Towards the Sky

This piece was originally published here (with the title “Dark Sky”), and is being re-published in The Manila Survival Guide with minor edits.

When I was a sophomore in high school, the all girls’ school next to our school decided to hold a dance. My tutor then had a niece named Samantha who was my age, so she asked me if I would want to go with her niece as a date. Except she didn’t say date, she just asked me if I could go.

I thought about it, and concluded that if I wanted to stop being “confused” about my sexuality, I had to start going out with girls. So I said yes.

corridor black and white

Photo taken here.

It started out simple enough. I had a driver, so I picked Samantha up at around 8pm. We didn’t really know each other, so the ride to the school-covered-court-turned-dance floor was long and awkward. I tried initiating conversation, but we both knew I was just forcing it.

When we came to the dance hall, we just sat in a corner. And sat some more. And remained silent. It was one of the longest nights in my young life.

At some point, her friends decided to rescue her from me, who was quite possibly the worst date created in the history of mankind. And I completely understood. She made a few apologies, obviously insincere, and ran with her friends. She never looked back.

I went out to a small grassy field, and stared at the few couples who were cuddling in corners. I didn’t really feel envious; just sad. I tried to go back and sit with Samantha, but it was no use, and with her friends there, the date just grew more and more awkward.

sky and field

Photo taken here.

So I went back out, and laid on the grass. My driver had already left. He said he’ll come back before midnight. I still had a couple of hours.

I remember the sky, like a deep purple marble stone, infinite and ominous. And at some point, the sensation of falling. I sat back up, heart beating fast. There was a sense of loss I think, though I did not understand what it was. There was definitely loneliness.

Samantha never spoke to me again. The few times I saw her, she acted like she didn’t know me. I really couldn’t blame her.


Photo taken here.

At a point later in my life, a distinguished writer criticized a story I wrote. She said she didn’t understand the image I was trying to evoke. “How can one fall towards the sky?” she asked. She was being rhetorical of course. She meant to show me that my metaphor didn’t work.

I didn’t bother explaining. I knew she wouldn’t understand. “How do you fall towards the sky?” she asked. If she wasn’t trying to be snarky, I would have answered, sincerely, “I am talking about the same thing, only they are not the same thing. There is fear, instead of freedom. The same way that you fly.”

Featured photo taken here.