Chapter 15: Spirit Week
School went back with a mix of excitement to see friends and the general "eh" feeling that accompanies going back to school. Classes got harder - everything got harder actually. At the first martial arts practice after school went back, Mei-Ling tested everyone for new belts and everyone advanced. Veronica with her "natural aptitude" did well enough to practically skip the yellow belt. Then Mei-Ling made the announcement.
"This summer, there is a student level world martial arts competition in China. My own instructor told me about it while I was on holiday after I mentioned our organization. It will have ranks for all level of students..." she paused dramatically. "And I'd like us to enter as a team."
We look at her in surprise. Most of us had only started this a few months ago and she wanted to take us to a world competition? "Every team can sponsor six people, myself included. If you are interested and dedicated to this, I need to know. There is not a lot of time to enter and go through the paperwork." she looked at all of us, there were still a few other students who floated in and out of practices. "Let us begin practices. Gin, Timothy - you two will start." she said.
Timothy and I were fairly well matched as novices, in the end I dealt the final blow. I was just a smidge faster than him. Next up were Todd and Veronica. Although they were at the same color belt, Todd did have a little bit more experience on his side. Veronica was newly an orange belt and Todd was well on his way to green. In the end, Todd won.
Given the upcoming competition, Mei-Ling and Erik both wanted to keep their own skills in practice. Mei-Ling didn't "pull any punches" with Erik and soundly defeated him but he was grinning after the spar and talking quickly with Mei-Ling about it.
After the initial spars in which Erik and Mei-Ling watched all our moves and blocks, we all sparred together. This was how most practices went. It was important for us to spar against a real person as opposed to just the training dummies and to keep us from predicting each others' moves, we switched partners often.
Even though I'd mostly joined as a gesture of friendship, I had every intention of stick with the club so I expressed my interest in the China trip along with Todd, Timothy and Veronica - Erik and Mei-Ling were obviously going as Erik had pretty much become a "co-captain" or whatever you wanted to call it. I saw a few other unfamiliar names on the list of "interested people".
A few weeks after Winter break the school hosted "Spirit Week". Student spirits were always a little low in January so Spirit Week was supposed to be more than just school spirit but also personal spirit. Regardless of the intention, every day was a special "dress up" day. Of course at least half the students didn't participate but that didn't ruin the fun for me.
First up was 80s day. Seeing as 80s clothes seemed to be coming slowly back into fashion, it wasn't hard for us to assemble outfits. Veronica protested the whole idea until I reminded her that she was a cheerleader - even if she was back to alternate status.
Todd approached me after school looking cool in his aviator glasses. "Have you seen Mei-Ling?" he asked me looking around as he talked.
"She's with Erik and Ms. Moore. They're having a meeting about the competition. Funding or something." I said with a shrug.
"Oh." Todd said looking dejected. He looked over at Timothy and Veronica who were fighting again. "What are they fighting about now?" he asked.
I rolled my eyes. "Same old I'd imagine. Veronica likes the making out but doesn't want an official 'relationship'. Timothy thinks she is afraid of what people will say and so on and so forth."
"Those two have been running hot and cold for weeks now....how do they do that?" Todd said looking back to see them kissing again.
I just shrugged. "I have no idea." I said with a laugh. I took another look at the couple and chuckled. "Come on, we can get in a spar or two before they come up for air or Erik and Mei-Ling get done with Ms. Moore." I said leading the way to the gym.
Pajama Day was met with some interesting results. The school insisted on certain dress code rules when it came to pajamas but it was certainly the most comfortable day at school. Several people brought pillows to school that day and pretended to sleep. Ms. Moore sent at least three people every period to detention I heard. I caught up with Erik in the cafeteria. It was the first time I'd seen him all day as he'd been in a meeting with Principal Watts during first period history.
He eyed my pajamas and looked at me curiously. "You know it's January right?" he asked.
I looked down at my Halloween pajamas and grinned. "I do know that." I said. "But Halloween is my favorite holiday so I have Halloween pajamas. Got a problem with that?" I asked with a laugh.
"No, no problem at all." he said smiling.
"I think that is one of the first real smiles I've gotten from you in weeks." I said.
"Really? I didn't realize..." Erik said, the smile disappearing.
"Never mind." I said with a sigh. "You've been busy and distracted. Lots to do to plan a trip to China."
"Right." Erik said. "Come on, let's get some lunch." he said taking my hand.
Pajama Day ended with Pajama races through the halls since most people were wearing socks and slippers only.
The best day, in my opinion, was Character Day. We were supposed to pick a character from a movie or literature and dress up as them. Did I mention my favorite holiday is Halloween? Because I love dressing up and being someone else - that's why I'm also in Theater.
Instead of practice, Mei-Ling called us all together for a meeting that afternoon.
"You all expressed and interest in the China trip and have shown dedication to this organization so you will be the ones going." Ms. Moore said addressed up. "Mei-Ling will address the specifics of the tournament with you all today, I am here to talk about the trip itself. Due to it's location, you will all need passports. If you don't already have one please look into it. You will need your parents to sign several forms, not just for the passport but permission slips and such. It's going to be a lot of paperwork which is why we've selected you all now instead of waiting. I'd like you all to come see me today or tomorrow so I can go over everything individually with you. Good luck." she said before retreating to the back corner where she graded papers through most of our practices.
Then Mei-Ling came forward to give us details about the tournament.
The last day was School Colors day and culminated in a sort of field day. Classes after lunch were canceled in favor of a quick pep rally and then competitions, relays, races, etc between the students. The school kept all the results and awarded ribbons too the winners.
"They're fighting again." Todd pointed out as we finished the relay race. I was tying a bright red vest on for flag football and looked over at them. They were louder than normal and their words carried over to where Todd and I were standing.
"I'm done Veronica, either you want to be with ME or not. I'm not just hanging around for your amusement." Timothy was obviously upset to me - someone who'd known him for years - but he looked so cool. He didn't flinch as Veronica spat back. "Well maybe I DON'T want to be with you!"
"Fine." he said simply and turned to walk away and retrieve his own colored vest. Veronica looked dumbstruck; although whether she was surprised at his reaction or at her own words I couldn't be sure.
Todd looked at me for some sort of reaction but I had nothing. I handed him his vest and walked onto the field. Across from us: Erik, Mei-Ling and Veronica were on the blue team.
Tuesday 80s Day:
Wednesday Pajama Day:
Thursday Character Day (Todd as Indiana Jones, Timothy as a Pirate, Mei-Ling as Rizzo from Grease, Erik as The Godfather, Ginny as Nurse Chapel, Veronica as Queen Guenevere)
Friday School Colors Day: