I don’t remember how many stairs there were from the 12th floor, where I went to school in a two-room, multi-grade classroom, but I can tell you that it took less than 30 seconds to bound out of the classroom and up those stairs to the roof.
The roof was all concrete. I’m surprised more of us didn’t have permanent scars on our knees and elbows from falling on that concrete roof. One of the best features was the rooftop pool, a square, shallow pool that was the perfect depth for little kids. And in the awful summer heat and humidity of Hong Kong, it was the perfect place to take a dip.
But what a temptation. At recess we would sometimes come to the roof to swing and run, ignoring the flapping laundry that was drying on the lines. At recess we were not allowed in the pool. This didn’t stop some of my friends from pushing the envelope and testing our teacher’s patience. Because is a foot or two in the water “going in”?
The roof was a great place to watch Chinese New Year fireworks, eat potluck and picnics and celebrate birthdays. From the roof you could see so much of the city, and now that I’m an adult, I realize how lucky I was to live above the chaos and crowds. The compound really was an oasis.
Besides swimming in the pool, my favorite part of the roof was the swings. I would pump my legs as hard as I could and swing so high I felt like my feet might touch the clouds.