It was white, with blue patterns on it. Sleeveless, it had a wide strap on each shoulder instead and an extra bit that rested off-shoulder, on each side.
It was my favourite dress for the longest time, and I used to wear it to church a lot.
I had short hair, my skin was dark. Scar on my left eyebrow from being daft when mommy was pregnant with Janice, and three moles on my face- one small one near my jawline, another slightly above, and one that was a tiny bit bigger, on the right side of my face where my hair stopped in front of my ear.
Sunday school was in containers then.
Janice (who wasn't my sister) and Dezarae would always sit together somewhere centre of the room (if you could call it that), Beatrice and Shiyun would usually be against the walls on the either side of the room, nearer the front (they didn't always sit together), Keith, Earnest and the other boys would be against the wall on the right side of the room, except a lot further back.
Me, I'd sit with Ashley, at the back, more or less opposite the boys,
Leaning against the walls on the left side, right next to the door. We'd hold hands behind our backs and pay attention to what was being taught.
One particular lesson talked about trust, and volunteers would go up and get blindfolded and have their best friend lead them to the back of the classroom.
Keith went up, and picked Ashley to go with him because they were best friends.
Every Sunday, for as long as I could remember,
I would have tea that they served in the cafeteria, and fishballs selling at a dollar for a stick. Each stick had four, and Janice and I would share a stick.
When we were moved out of the containers, mommy started teaching sunday school.
She taught the eight year olds, which meant Sarah, Sophil, Samuel, Stephas, Inez, among others.
All of us were in the Joybells- the children's choir.
On one Sunday of the month, some of my classmates would get to leave Sunday School early for Holy Communion. Yoyos were the craze, girls became allergic to boys and I started getting an entire stick of fishballs to myself.
And that was how it was, for the longest time.
Tea, fishballs and growing up.
I'd play (or try to) soccer in the tiny playground round the back, in my favourite Sunday dress matched with frilly socks and black shoes from Bubblegummers.
I'd sit on the four-seater swing set on the other end of the playground, while soccer was going on and Mothers yelled at their sons for messing up the Sunday clothes.
In time, I learnt that Holy Communion wasn't about eating a biscuit or a white wafer,
I started eating savoury food for breakfast, and an entire meal at that. It was where I first had Nasi Lemak and made it part of my Sunday routine.
I discovered the sanctuary of the library, playroom and the prayer room.
When worship stopped being cool, I would attend the adult service from the Gallery, and then slip back in to the worship for the tweens who were more keen on chucking paper balls at each other.
The lyrics of songs stopped being flashed on an overhead projector, and instead came up on screens with backgrounds made up of colours that faded in and out of each other.
Joybells missed one practice because we couldn't find a room, then another, and another, and another until we were on a temporary hiatus that we never came back from.
I started appreciating alone-time, loved worship, and wondered why I always seemed to fit better with people who weren't my age.
I grew, and starting needing, started searching even before I knew it.
And then I got tired of not quite fitting in, or only feeling like I fit with the ones who were just a bit older.
It's been years now, and I've gone to a different church for the last six years.
Going to churches (any sort, as long as it's a church building) always has me missing the one I grew up in.
I still love hanging out with Sarah and Sophil and the rest of the lot, whenever I do.
Ashley's still someone I can talk to, and he still feels like a close friend although we haven't really chatted all that much or all that regularly over the years.
The backgrounds on which song lyrics are flashed can now move! And behind
"Praise Him above, ye heavenly host" there's something that looks like running water.
The tea still tastes exactly the same, fishballs and nasi lemak are still sold in the cafeteria. My friends are on the worship team, and so am I, in my own church.
My cell group leader (who's name I've never remembered) married one of the friends I met at youth camp, there isn't a vast difference amongst the age groups in the Youth Ministry.
Some of us have gotten married, some of us will, some of us (the older ones) already have kids.
I've got new scars, my shoes aren't shiny and black.
When I say hello, people take a while before going,
"Wow, you're so grown up now!"
The swing set in the playground is still there, although the bits and pieces around the playground have changed and been moved about.
It's still a four-seater, that swing set, except it's much smaller than I remember.
It can only fit two and a half of me, when just a while back, six of us could clamber on.
Everything's still the same, despite so much having changed.
I'm not sure how that works, but it does. The cafeteria still smells the same, people I grew up with say Hello like they've been doing it every week.
I wonder when the swing-set shrank,
When we swapped out shiny black shoes for strappy sandals that made us four inches taller.
Everytime I go back, it feels like I'm stepping back into a place from a lifetime ago.
And I am.
We've missed out on each other's lives, but we've carried on all the same.
And so, I seat myself on that four-seater swing set that's now only big enough for two,
I sip tea that's tasted the same all these years,
And I sway quietly, back and forth.
The leaves moving about happily, even the dragging of chairs in the sunday school classrooms producing a somewhat musical sound.
It feels the same, the comfortable solitude that I've had on this swing set.
I never thought it'd ever change, when it did.
But we never think things'll change, do we?
But it's still here, this four-seater swing set.
And I might not be in my favourite Sunday dress anymore, but
I am still here.
Today, at least.
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