Take a seat in the park of our subdivision, Philam Homes. A man sidles up to talk. I move, another man comes over. Do I need a chaperone to sit? Every alone is an invitation. The only privacy is the Catholic church, eternally open for the Blessed Sacrament so available for adoration. It offered some diversion.
Here's a secret to noli mi tangere: become invisible. The trick's to ignore all the people staring at me, just make them go away by turning off the outside world. This “trick” has allowed me to do very risky impulsive things, because I negate the world in order to live in it.
When no one is watching, others are waiting to share. That’s what we learn after so much exposure. “Help me, ma'am” he says. I’m in third grade, a good citizen, so I obey, because he asked. “Help me ma'am". Ma'am? I am seven and a half. He’s in his car. He's jerking his cock. It's my first shame. Help him what? This is a world of matter-of-fact nakedness. Men pee on the side of the road, kids run naked in the rain, so have I. But in buses, in movie theaters, other places, anonymous hands spider under my legs, across the seat. Auntie Soli hrumphs, she says, "what's new?" She tells her own story about the anonymous hand and her padded bra. We cackle. It happens to any dalaga. Maybe, but we mk also know it's because we are white meat and not mahinhin.
And now, there's no way to be hidden, even my dreams break the barricade: military occupation, pools of shit, a black bird drags a broken wing. What insurgency is this? I taste the dread in the night, but in the morning, best to disconnect, swallow the vomit, smile.
Sweet 16, and my psyche untangles its tether and pulls up the anchor, slimy with mud. I am in a safe harbor and can recognize the shore, but no one is watching as my boat lifts over the swell and out to sea. Not me, not the family, not experts, and I don't know, does God?
Can't make myself belong here anymore, can't bend down and disappear, can't go along. Sick of small talk. Can't crawl into the hole. Now it feels like a forced exile, and I swim through a current of desire and resentment. If I connect home to my passport, will I relieve this dread?