The party was in a small apartment right in the middle of the financial district of Makati City, in an old building that had parquet floors and beige walls. The people were the usual mix of expats and locals; art experts, businessmen or lawyers in their professional lives. It was casual and oh-so-chic; red and white wine served with deviled eggs, hors d'ouvres and snappy, intellectual conversation. There was much laughter and merrymaking.
I felt like a fish out of water.
As is usually the case in small intimate settings with people I do not know, I was out of place and awkward. I latched onto my friend Jay all night, and tried to feel some security in his presence. I do not know what happens to me when I'm in the company of strangers, as if I suddenly grow a new personality, one entirely too polite and quiet. Definitely different from the personality I exhibit when I'm with friends.
I tried to make small talk with some girl whose name I now forgot, but I remember feeling like I was having an out-of-body experience. I was there, and I was listening to her talk, but I also felt like I was somewhere else, watching myself listening to her talk. It was altogether too strange and forced. Merrymaking is an apt word I think. In my case, there seems to be much more "making" involved for the "merry" I tend to get.
At some point, I remember asking the host how she knew all these people. And she said that she didn't, and that she met most of them that night. Basically, she told me that everyone was practically a stranger to everyone else.
And I remember looking around, and wondering how all these people in this room can feel so at ease with themselves. And how easily their personalities, witty and charming, seem to come out.
And I vowed (vowed!) that I would try to do the same. I was going to squeeze out every bit of "merry" I can get from this party, even if the "making" part of it kills me.
Guess what? It didn't kill me.
Photo taken here.