At near terminal velocity, breaking through the layers of clouds I finally emerge to see the world growing ever larger beneath me. The most prominent feature being a small island not far from the coast, that at first seems to be completely green. The island has a tall peak at one end that sweeps down to the sea on the other side. Closer still and I can begin to see the buildings tucked behind the dense tropical foliage. Suddenly I am aware of my surroundings, it’s Hong Kong the setting for my childhood.
As I am circling far above the treetops, a group of homes appears from behind a ridge and I recognise the up-market housing estate where I ran around playing as a young boy. The artificially shaped roads that ended in cosy courtyards that served several homes were still familiar. Suddenly I was whisked away to the right and passed close to the edges of the cliff face that the estate stood upon. Soon my target lay before me, it was the swimming pool.
I come down to the ground and landed softly, then objects began to pop up all around me revealing long untouched memories of a place that I once took for granted. Once more I felt the warm sensation of wet feet on hot tiles, as I walked barefoot past the numerous deck-chairs. The distinctive smell of suntan lotion and the ruffle of newspapers, reminded me of my own father as he had once sat watching over me as I swam with my friends. At once the smell of chlorine filled my nose and the pool filled up with my childhood friends screaming, shouting, laughing and splashing in the water. The colourful inflatables that used to converge upon the pool daily reappeared to wage war against one another one last time. A large mottled-grey whale was bashing its head against the tail-end of a crocodile that was attempting to puncture a hole in a nearby giraffe.
Slowly I made my way round last the long spring-board, and watched as somebody bounced off the end and dodged the large splash that followed the springy sound of the board’s reverberations. Soon my concentration was drawn back to my direction as I almost fell headlong into the much smaller kid’s pool. More like a large round puddle, of no more than six inches in depth, the kid’s pool still had toddlers wearing bright orange arm-bands.
Standing tall above the pool was the spacious club-house. Strictly in keeping with the childishness of my memories I refused the path up through the rockery of exotic flowers and neat shrubs. Underfoot the texture became rough as I climbed up the wood-chip covered bank. Reaching the top I stepped inside and walked across the empty hall to the windows on the other side of the building. From the window I could see out over the cliff, right down to the harbour and out to the great expanse of the sea. The enormity of it, its blueness pulled me in.
Slam! The pencil hit the table after a failed spin, and my daydream ended unceremoniously.
Postscript: I wrote this about 18 years ago for an assignment at school, ten years after we left Hong Kong. Recently, my mother found it with a small collection of my homework. Today, I remember writing it more than I remember running around the pool.