I’m totally not supposed to be up here. Yesterday there were no piles of sheet rock crowding the stairwell, and they’ve materialized today in the effort to refurbish (or perhaps furbish for the first time?) the upper floors of my building. But despite the chalky dust everywhere, the door is open. The roof calls me.
Dusk crests over the hill I often climb before work, silhouetting the pagoda at surrounded by exercise equipment at the top in bright, humid orange. Shimmers shone off the roofs of the endless sea of identical apartment buildings, which my camera could not capture.
Emboldened by the apparent lack of guard on the roof, I climb up onto the grassy lawns built into the roof and looked down on Yeongtong. Stretched out below me are Home Plus (my grocery store/Target/Clothing Store), the eye doctor’s office, the restaurant we went to my first night, my favorite cat store (cute kitties in the window all day every day!), and the massive bridge I often sprint across flat out when I’m running late.
I play with the settings on my point and shoot camera. Remarkable how far we’ve come from the days of floppy-disk digital cameras. I figure out the self-timer and set the camera on the CCTV meant to protect the roof from marauding English teachers on their lunch break. I take a seat on the ledge of the roof, not quite daring to look at the ten-story drop inches away. Flying high above Yeongtong at sunset.
A clang over my shoulder. A man stumbles out of the metal structure on the roof, which appears to house a cell phone tower and some cooling equipment. He struggles to pull on his rubber boots, as though I’d roused him from an afternoon nap. We make eye contact.
Before he can call out to stop me, I bolt. Down five flights of stairs, removing my jacket as a go. Camera into its case. I duck into the Avalon office, set my coat down, and begin planning next week’s lesson as though I was not just running from the building security. Coleen Teacher, secret roof photographer extraordinaire.