O is for Orange Brook Elementary
I have a lot of memories of this school, even though I only went from third to fifth grade. Here are a collection of recollections from there.
(sorry for tense shifts in these)
It is mid-afternoon and the South Florida sun warms the children scrambling about the Orange Brook Elementary playground. I’m running races with Kendrick, the fastest boy. As far as I can tell, I am the fastest girl. We count down to launch and propel our wiry bodies towards a predetermined finish line, probably a stick in the weeds out beyond the kickball field. He finished slightly ahead, wins by an arm, and I am sad, hunched over slightly to catch my breath. But I recover quickly because I am only nine and my body regenerates and refuels with speed and skill. As I walk back towards the tennis courts, a boy in my class, James, approaches. He has a devious smile on his face, looking for trouble, I assume. In a fraction of a moment, he has gotten very close to me and snatched my fourteen-carat-gold cross necklace, bolting away. When the teacher caught him, he was forced to help me scour the dry scratchy shrubs of the field but we never did find it, the gift from my grandparents on the occasion of my First Communion.
I was running around the huge ass field by the playground as most kids do during P.E. It was free day so you could do whatever and I found a basketball. Just as I was gearing up to shoot, a larger girl named Kenzi Mobley came up and demanded I give her the ball. Of course I said no, having just overcome a bully last year, and this was certainly not the answer she expected. Grasping to pry it from my fingers, I held strong. Then, out of my sight, she geared up and let loose a giant fist, connecting with my jaw. I remember falling and then having an asthma attack, then running to the front office to get the Ventolin inhaler my mom kept for me up there. I distinctly remember that she never got punished and I was told to learn to share.
I was a very good student so naturally, I signed up to be safety patrol. My best friend, Heather, was also one and we made sure we could get hallways near each other so we’d hang out more in the mornings and afternoons. In third grade I remember how she and I got really into this line of clothing that came in matching sets: skinny shorts down to the knee and long shirts to match but in crazy 80s color combos: neon on the like. She and I had a plan to get our parents to buy us as many of these outfits as we could and then we’d get to school, assess what each other had, then swapped one of the pieces to match the other. It was a silly game but I remember it so vividly.
It’s funny how the buildings and institutions of our childhoods stick in our memories; it was only three years of my life but I can picture it so clearly.