The Spaces Between Your Fingers

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At this time, Sean was an international student in Hong Kong, China. He lived in an enormous apartment complex with many other kids of his age, and they had countless adventures together of this sort. Apparently the air temperature was hot, but the water was very cold.

 

As we all scurried from the bus, my friend Dan ran out in front of me and called me a slowpoke. I skipped the last step and ran off to hit the pool with my friends. Today didn’t just mark the end of my time as third grader. It also marked the end of my first year as an international student!

Just less than a year ago my parents and I had boarded a plane set for Hong Kong. But suddenly there I was, a member of one remarkably diverse group of eight year olds. Dan, me, and the other kids didn’t stop running when we got off the bus. And normally we would have. Normally, we would have just walked back to each of our respective apartments. But this was different. Our running became sprinting as we headed for Orchid Pool.

A sea of red-colored polo shirts flooded the pool complex. It moved further and stretched to wrap around the pool’s perimeter like some obscure and exotic worm. The pool’s surface reflected our faces and school uniforms back at us, but still below the surface lingered the art that gave the pool its name. On its floor was a detailed mosaic, depicting all the subtleties of an orchid flower. The orchid’s powder blue flesh contrasted with the darker hues of its shaded folds. Surrounded by a sea of dark blue, the orchid shined brilliantly from a birds view, and from ours.

Suddenly a splash pierced the still surface of the pool. It was my feet, as they surrendered in their struggle to maintain balance in spite of Dan pushing me over the pool’s edge. And then my torso hit the water, which I’m sure created a large splash. I don’t know of course, because by this point I was well under water. But when I surfaced, I saw Dan take a generous running start before rupturing the again still surface with an expert cannonball.

As I climbed from the pool minutes later, I noticed that about twenty of my surrounding classmates had begun to tear their shirts—symbols of Elementary School servitude—from their little torsos. Dan walked over and said, “Tear yours too! We do this every year!”

And so I grabbed the polo shirt and began to pull the lips of its collar in opposite directions. A small tear appeared at the v-shaped shaped junction of fabric, and I heaved. It tore all the way down to my belly button, and with one final thrust I ripped its symbolic tyranny from my hairless chest.

Orchid Pool

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2001
Hong Kong, China

At this time, Sean was an international student in Hong Kong, China. He lived in an enormous apartment complex with many other kids of his age, and they had countless adventures together of this sort. Apparently the air temperature was hot, but the water was very cold.

Tags: China
Decade: 2000s
Rating:
Recorded by Marcus Kunkle on April 14, 2014
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