Who are we but bright flames that wane?
Flesh alive and so here now, but can step away from these frames
Far away the evening fragrance lingers
Seeping into deeper woods
Feeling is like morning weather
With windchimes and little bells
Rolling misty haze, kissing our feets
Atop the marbled pathway
Of a holy treasure
I took something that I hated, loved it, then hated it again
When feeling like digging deep into ground head down
Stop all music
In a quiet room, lay a different way
Body distortion, body contortion
Breathe, from tummy
It just came to me out of nowhere, but I think his name was Mr. Mock. He was the gym teacher who made elementary school ten times more fun, especially for extremely playful kids like myself. Why would anyone want to sit around, study, and get lost in messed up thoughts when you could be flying and giggling in the air half way during some leaping jump? You could be chasing kids around in hide and seek, or you could be running away from them in a game of tag.
Gym time was just that, and Mr. Mock made it fun by incorporating sports elements to it; although I cared less about sports. We played a game of kickball, as I remember it. It was the closest to tag that I could play during school. My heart skipped a beat every time we were to begin gym class. Not only was the whole concept of gym fun, but I also had a budding innocent little crush on Mr. Mock.
He looked like a Ken doll, or Flash the superhero from some TV show in either the 80s or the 90s that had always stuck with me. He had brownish hair, blue eyes, and a sharp jawline. And he always wore gym clothes, which included a track jacket.
Yeah, so granted I was probably nine and he was probably over forty, now that I look back… and embarrassingly bite my lip. As a kid, your concept of “a crush” is really really innocent and extremely vague. You have to remember that as kids, we’re brainwashed with romantic ideals from television and movies that constantly showed adults in love. It was always like “maybe I’d grow up and get a chance”… I guess. It was super innocent.
Every time he gave me attention in the class, I felt like I was the only one. When you have a crush on someone, it distorts your mind into believing that they’re paying attention to solely you, when in actuality, they’re treating everyone the same. But I do remember one time, when he was teaching us how to play baseball, where I felt extra special. I was sitting down with all the kids and listening to him explain the rules. Obviously, I didn’t care. He took my hand and used me as a demo to explain to the kids. He said, “If you’re left handed, you stand to the left” and he led me to the left, and he said, “If you’re right handed, you stand to the right” and he led me to the right. I think I got my directions wrong, so he playfully said left, and pulled me left, or right, and pulled me right, or left, and pulled me left, or right, and pulled me right. I giggled so happily and ostentatiously, and he was laughing too. Basically I was in zen when I sat back down. I felt so special. I thought Mr. Mock would always know who I am.
He did, when I saw him in the parking lot in front of K-Mart. To my childish embarrassment, I was with my entire family including my grandparents when we got out of the car as Mr. Mock was pulling his cart out. I think I froze still, but Mr. Mock did acknowledge and said, “Hi” or gave a nod, or something.
The next day in gym class, he called me “Ms. K-mart” and I felt special and acknowledged. Of course, when I thought about it years later, I wasn’t too ecstatic thinking that K-Mart actually went bankrupt and that company became a joke. Anyway, this was back then. Still, I think he would have remembered me years later. But soon enough, I never saw him again.
I did visit that place when I was in my late teens and entered his empty office in the gym. I never even knew there was an office in the gym. He had a picture of an elderly pear-shaped woman sitting down on a chair at his desk. Maybe it was his wife, but it couldn’t be his mother due to the newness of the picture.
So that was that. Right this minute, I wonder where he is now. In a nursing home? No… he can’t be that old. Maybe he’s in his sixties now. Either way, I doubt he’d remember me. We’d have to zoom back to the past, back to the gym class when he playfully pulled me left, and then right, and then left and then right again. I can still hear the echos of my giggles.
We were little kids who sat in the school cafeteria during lunchtime. The cafeteria special that day, as it was every other day, was pizza. I used to think that pizza was a big deal, but the school pizza really, really sucked. I had a friend from Botswana next to me and a friend from Korea across. The Botswanian friend grabbed her slice of pizza and downed it. She slurped that stringy white cheese and said it was good. I glanced at my piece of oozing pile of lump before me. There was hardly any pizza sauce in it. The cheese looked man-made; it was was white and tasteless. I turned it a bit and looked under it. The dough was almost white and seemed uncooked. The bread had little holes in it that made it look like a big soggy biscuit. Amid my dissatisfaction, I grabbed it by my hand and took a bite off its cold triangular tip. The cafeteria was white and windowless. It looked like a big gym, but when I had revisited it many years later, I found out just how tiny that place actually was. It’s funny how things appear so big and grandiose when you’re a kid. I somewhat recall what I was wearing; probably light blue jeans, white sneakers, and a sweatshirt. That was the type of outfit I wore pretty often during those days; although they weren’t of my preference. My hair was probably half tied in a pony tail with a colorful clip that had strings and charms on it. My skin was smooth and wheat colored. My grandma used to say that to indicate that I was neither light skinned nor was I dark. It never looked like I was smiling, but I was a pretty
happy little kid. I always wanted to be around people and have fun.
All around me kids ate their respective soggy pizzas.
This was a big deal to me.
It took great distance and a lot of effort to get here, but here I was, in America, making new friends. Kids were just kids, no matter what our skin tones were or what our cultures were. We talked to each other like the vacant vessels that we were. Empty, and so open. We were filling it, I was improving on my English. Such genuine friendships, such innocent jokes and real laughter. We finished lunch, I threw away my greasy pizza. That, I just couldn’t open up to. I headed back to class with hands in my pockets alongside my friends.
If it were up to me, I wouldn’t care. I wouldn’t smile. I wouldn’t talk much. I’d be sitting by the beach all day, writing, quenching thirst with juice in the other hand. Bare skinned and in a swimsuit, lounging and dipping into the smelting hot golden sand. Letting my skin bake into the brownest that it could possibly get. If it were up to me, I’d have coconut oil in my hair soaking into each strand hungrily. Squinting my eyes and looking up, I’d watch the movement of the sun all day as it glides across the sky from east to west, or up and down… whatever it is that it does. Time would go as slow as it possibly could go. I’d stare into the face of the distant horizon, thoughtless and unafraid. If it were up to me, I’d have an ardent romance and risk it all. I’d just twirl in trance to the staccato echoes of the sea, ’till who knows when, aimlessly.