4.1 Spring 2022

March 18, Jump rope club

Wendy mentioned a few weeks ago that she would take to the roof for jump roping. This seemed absurd to me, but oh how the tables turn because yesterday, I found myself with her and MJ on top of the school with a borrowed jump rope in my hand.

I thought it would be a more casual meeting where we jump rope and then gossip, but it was all business. Jack rode on the elevator with us, maxim coffee in hand, but declined Wendy’s invitation instead to sit on a bench opposite from our exercise club and scroll on his phone while probably itching for a cigarette.

MJ had a jump rope with an automatic counter and was trying to beat her last score of 700. Wendy took to the opposite corner after trading ropes with me.

“Here, this one is longer.”

I still whipped myself in the toes or head a few times.

We spread out: MJ faced west, Wendy faced the glass door entrance, and I looked south. I could see the ocean and mountains, at least in between moments when my hair was slapping me in the face.

As I was on the roof in my school slides, I was jumping on the brick patio in just my socks. My toes were stinging from the many misses and I wondered how much longer we would go on. But I vowed to not be the first quitter.

Miraculously, my Caucasian apocrine glands held up and I did not break a sweat. I don’t think I’ll be able to join them in the summer, though– Wendy and MJ are not only genetically sweat-lite Koreans, but also petite women who couldn’t smell if they tried.

That ain’t me.

We took the elevator down together, MJ wiping at her damp brow with a handkerchief.

“Wait. Why are we using the elevator? That doesn’t seem very health-inspired.” I commented.

“It’s better for our knees to take the elevator down.” Wendy answered with certainty.

“But we also took the elevator up…”

“…..Yeah.” She laughed.

It was surprisingly refreshing, especially given that on the way up to the roof MJ had noted I looked like I didn’t want to jump rope.

“I don’t,” I told her. I wasn’t thrilled about getting sweaty in my office clothes but had gone to get gossip and grow the relationship with my office mates. Gossip is a social glue that holds us together. It’s science.

I didn’t get gossip but I did get some exercise and felt more like part of the team.

That illusion was tested when a teacher came in to give us cookies and then laugh raucously with the other three about who knows what while I pretended to listen to music. Until I become fluent in Korean, there will always be a divide between me and the other teachers. It’s understandable, but no less annoying.

At least, that’s what I thought, until I saw that same teacher the following day. She complimented my sweater in Korean and then told me privately that she had to sub in for another teacher since he was out.

“Because of COVID?”

“Don’t tell the kids, they don’t know yet.” She said.

One of us! One of us!

I can wish all day that other teachers around school weren’t scared to do small talk in English, but ultimately it’s on me to push forward in this seemingly endless uphill climb to fluency. The more I’m privy to gossip, inside jokes, and scandalous updates, the more I know I’m making it.

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