I miss my college days, especially the summer classes. I often wish I could go back. It's not all fun, I know, but sometimes, when I'm at my most nostalgic, it's not the fun that I find myself remembering, but the harshest times of my college life, my alternative living, my adult life beginning, my summer indie film.

I remember how I used to hate my 7:30 am classes. To make it in time, I'll have to wake up at around 6 am, which is a burden being in Baguio, where a cold shower can kill, even in the summer. It's usually in the summer classes that I get this kind of schedule, and that means I get up at that hour everyday except on Sundays. I had to really drag myself out from the comfort of my warm bed and force some breakfast food into my system: cinnamon rolls and Extra Joss energy drink. Then I'd search in vain for a shower with a heater that works. I forgot to mention I lived in a dormitory, with common toilets and showers. It's usually in the ladies' room that I find the heaters, so I shower there. Since it's the summer, the dorm is nearly empty, except for the other tenants, some students who probably failed and were repeating some subject, or others like me, unwilling to go back to their families.

In the morning, my challenge begins, especially if this is just Monday. I just walk to the university gates since it's just next door to my dorm, and because this is Baguio, you can't expect the ground to be always level. My classroom is on the second floor from the other side, but from the side where I'm coming from, I'll have to climb three long sets of stairs. At times when I'm running late, I'm really running, jumping three steps at a time. Sometimes when I run by the chapel, I remember to do the sign of the cross. Most of the time, I don't. I reach the classroom almost always out of breath, only to find the instructor even more late, even more tired, even more haggard with a killer hangover.

And a short quiz. For which my classmates and I came in unprepared. I sit the quiz out especially if it's numbers. If it's an essay quiz, I attempt to bull my way around the question, make up answers with no concrete bases, and have a fighting chance, but with numbers and calculations, no. I just sit. If not the quiz then there's the more deadly lecture, a monotonous drone from the drunkard at the front, the instructor with pink eyes, who sometimes falls in front of the class, because he's just human.

It also sucks when there are one and a half hour breaks in between two classes. This always happens to me. I have three classes in a day, separated by one and a half hour gaps. Those long breaks were very inconvenient, it was a very long wait for the next class, or a very short time to go back to the dorm and rest or do something fun. I would usually climb up the library, all the seven floors of it. An ancient earthquake, legend says, has once ripped one whole wall off the whole building, taking the elevator with it, and that means, decades later, running up and down stairs. I usually don't run, I stroll as leisurely as I can to avoid getting tired, but by the time I reach the upper floors, I have very little time left for reading. So I just stare at bookshelves, contemplating, hatching plans and strategies on how to be able to successfully steal a book from the library using only a combination of cunning and drama, a plan I was never able to carry out (I sigh). I had always been a frustrated con man. Not the common thief, but a con artist.

At times, after finishing planning my cons, I fall asleep in class. The constant, unwavering voice of the instructor, the information overload owing to the fact that we're cramming because the summer period is shorter than the regular semesters, my unusually quiet seatmate who has already fallen asleep all contribute to a one-and-a-half-hour sleep extravaganza, or shorter, depending on the instructor's tolerance, kindness and understanding. To avoid embarassing moments, I keep with me my bottle of Extra Joss and take little sips that burn the tongue and keep my eyes open. After that class, I would eat lunch with whoever is available to eat with, usually a classmate.

In the afternoons, I was at the height of my loneliness. My classes end at 2:30 pm. It's just too early to go home and do nothing, and there are lots of places I could go to, but no one to go there with. All my friends have gone back to their hometowns and did not take the summer classes. In these afternoons I used to find myself trying hard to decide where to go and spend time without looking like an idiot, so I attended the afternoon masses. Yup, I got closer to God. Or a God, if you're not really Catholic. It was kind of obsessive, like my other habits. I noted down some important homilies I can relate to. I felt unaccomplished on days that I skipped mass. I used to sit only at my favorite pew, the one adjacent to a painting of Christ and the Cross falling. I also noticed that other people had favorite seats too, just like me. There were only a handful of people inside the Church, so I really felt like I was inside it, it was so personal, something I don't feel in the Cathedral or anywhere else. The priest was black. Not African American black. He's got an accent I don't recognize. And he's really black, charcoal black. It mattered to no one. I once asked him if he did confessions, "On Fridays" he answered. I never went, I don't know why.

The masses would end shortly before four, giving me just enough time to hang around at one of the buildings in the university where my crush took her NSTP classes. Yeah, I was a stalker, believe me. I always found reason to be there and talk to her, and when I ran out of reasons I stopped explaining altogether and just sat there on the stairs or on the bleachers while she waited for her classes to begin, and when they did, and when she started walking to her room, it's time for me to look for something else to do.

After stalking, I still would go out, unwilling to go back to an empty dorm room. I would go the malls and do what I have avoided doing earlier, wander alone looking like an idiot. I always visited the bookstores. I really took time looking for books I would someday buy, someday read, someday hate. I'd look for inspirations that would help me write my own book. Sometimes I went to the videoke rooms and sang, alone. Just five songs until my throat hurts or the shame of my singing sinks in.

If I had money then, I would have gone watching movies. But that was a time when budget was tight, and blowing it on movies meant a shorter life span for my money which meant getting in touch with my parents again to ask for more. I hated doing this.

Of course I ate dinner alone. There's only a few select places where I ate, the ones where I could stay longer and no one would mind, as I was the only customer. I used to eat the same kind of food each day, same amount, same order. I liked keeping my routine. I remember my favorite dinner was pork sinigang, a fried chicken leg and 2 rice servings. I finish the sinigang and the rice first, and the fried chicken serves as dessert. Even in the restaurants, I saw people who stuck to their routine too, always occupying the same tables eating the same shit and taking in the same shit from the overhead TV.

At night, I walk around. Anywhere but home, just like the album. I always went to Session Road, stroll alone, up and down, until I decide I'm tired so I go back to the empty dorm, the quiet in the room I try to shake out with the help of my Cranberries album. Sometimes someone from the dorm would knock on my door and borrow a charger or invite me to watch TV or drink. More often, no one knocked at all.

At night I slept early. I had to, if I didn't want to regret it in the morning. I read books to tire my eyes out. More often, I would write in my journal, until my eyes are nearly tearful and my hands can write no more.

At times I have trouble sleeping. I kept the lights on, and faced the door. If the stories about the resident ghost had any shreds of truth, I was ready. Then I'd feel guilty and turn the lights off. The orange light from the lamppost outside is difficult to erase from my mind, especially since I had spent nights staring at the windows where it shone through.

And sleep. Sleep as always was short. A fleeting feel of death. A temporary peace, vulnerability, surrender, freedom. Its soundlessness is so calming, its silence broken only by the occasional sound of shattered glass from a bottle thrown by some drunk dorm tenant until the early dawn, when the cold bites into the whole body, and my hand reaches out to hurl the alarm clock against a wall to silence its blaring wake up call that starts another day of running three flights of stairs and solitude, of silent masses and quick, cold breakfasts, of days of tedium, of lying down at night to imagine, to await the future that turns out to be a future filled with lying down at night remembering, missing the past.

There's nowhere else to go but back.
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