The Muffled Sound of Laughing Asian Children

Dedicated to the laughter of those little Asian children running on the lawn of Anderson… not so much the children… just their laughter.

I woke up in a real bed this morning… the first time I’ve actually slept in a real bed in nearly a month, and it was such a beautiful feeling. But as my eyes flittered awake this morning and buzzed about the room, I felt like there was something missing; it was a perfectly beautiful Saturday morning with sun streaming through the curtains. Everything seemed to be as it was the night before, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. What. Was. Missing… and then it hit me. Saturday morning. There was no muffled sound of Asian children; I had become so accustomed, so spoiled, to the sweet sound of Asian laughter that I almost felt robbed when I realized it wasn’t there this morning. And after I had come to this revelation, I made a decision: I don’t want to be here anymore. I don’t want to be an adult. I just want my Asian children.
But alas, there were things that needed to be done. I had to go and fill out paperwork to make sure I could start work this week, and I had to make arrangements with my other job so that it would all work. There’s homework in PR Ethics and preparation for my writing class. Rent is due today, and the light and cable are surely going to follow soon enough. And still, all that I could think about were those Asian children. For those of you who don’t understand, Maryville College would turn Anderson Hall into what I imagine was a preparatory program for the local Asian children on Saturdays. You would never actually see the children around the city of Maryville throughout the week, but on Saturday, they would pour out of the woodwork and take classes, followed by some version of recess on the Anderson lawn. As a Maryville College student, it’s not something you come to just accept; it’s something you come to embrace.
And it’s not like we had any sentimental attachment other than the fact that when I would stir on Saturday mornings, the volume and quantity of the laughter would alert me as to what time it was. If I heard full blown screaming and cheering, I knew that it was about eleven o’clock. If it was just a couple of giggles and the occasional burst of childlike Japanese, then I had definitely overslept. They would gather outside of my window, and their sweet little voices would carry up through the cracks in the window sill like an alarm clock… but the children themselves… they were mean. Kind of like a polar bear or a honey badger, the Asian children were to be admired from afar: get too close and you could bet that you would be mauled or at minimum, have a kickball shot at your person.
And you know, as I closed my eyes and ran through them as quickly as I could to make it to Pearson’s to get breakfast/lunch/salad bar/chewy pizza/yesterday’s barbecue chicken, I never really thought to stop and ask someone What are they actually doing at this Saturday school? and I suppose that would have been the logical thing to do instead of treating the Asian children like some harmonic monsters that lived under the bed as I ran to get a glass of water at night, but I never asked. I sometimes hope that I run into at least one of them again later on in life for a number of reasons… a) to ask them to laugh just once more b) to explain how mean they were as children and c) I guess to eventually get to the heart of the matter and find out what they were doing up in Anderson.
It goes to show that when you end up getting further and further distanced from the familiar, the things that you miss start becoming more and more obscure. As I left campus for the last time, taking one (or seven) victory laps, I thought about how much I would miss my friends and professors, the bosses I had, and the overall familiarity of the campus. Then, as I started having to pay for my own food, I realized how much I missed meal plans and furthermore, the spectacular people that made food for me. And as I traverse the street of the District of Columbia in a traffic jam of people very obviously hopped up on speed and bath salts (concluded by their chosen method of operating a vehicle), I start to miss the super inconvenient four minute walk I had to take from the “far” parking spot back over to whatever building I was going to, but I think you really have some reconsidering to do about how much you miss a place you have left when you start to miss the stifled laughter of small Asian children, and with the typical “want it now” Generation Y attitude, I looked on Craigslist to see if anyone had any Asian children, or children in general, for sale, but I don’t think that’s been legal since circa 1978.
Reflecting back on a place you’ve come from seems to follow a similar timeline to the grieving process. Everything seems to have a parallel: specifically the anger stage and that one time at a Virginia Target when I contemplated ramming a woman’s minivan Fried Green Tomatoes style when she took my parking spot, and I would imagine that this somewhat empty, yet understanding feeling I have sans-Asian children is my way of accepting that it’s time to find something to fill the void. It’s time to move forward.
I’ll never forget you Asian child laughter. You’ll always have a special place in my heart, and no matter where in the world I am, nor how old I get, there will always be an echo of your loving, yet intimidating, giggles lingering in the back of my mind.

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3 thoughts on “The Muffled Sound of Laughing Asian Children

  1. I do not understand how it was perceived as racist. They were a group of children from a country in Asia. Justin was not privy to the name of the country so he used Asian. Just like if you are referring to people who you know are from Europe, but aren't sure where, you would refer to them as European.

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