My version of a summer treehouse: my roof

May 4, 2023 — by Beverly Xu
Photo by Beverly Xu
With a blaring “Filmora Free Plan” watermark, my rooftop music video clearly had everything but a big budget.
During our first summer in quarantine, my sister and I discovered that the perfect place to hangout was right above our heads…

Spending the summer of 2020 in quarantine was like being told to entertain a toddler for three whole months — you’ve got to be creative — and with my sister back from college early, our combined “creativity” had no limits. I mean, we quite literally found ourselves above the ceiling on our roof. In order to escape our cabin fever, we ended up turning our roof into a treehouse. 

It all started with my obsession over music videos — I couldn’t sing for my life, but I could dance a bit better, and what better way to pass the time than to choreograph, film and edit a music video? (Saratoga parents and peers, please refrain from answering that rhetorical question.) And while trying to find unique shots from around my house, I realized that the roof, being the most exotic location within the perimeter of my home, was the perfect stage for me to record myself dancing to Billie Eilish’s “Strange Addiction.”

You might be thinking: “Hold up, since when was the roof even an option?” Well, ever since I started playing badminton with my sister in our backyard, we (mainly me) had a habit of swinging a little too hard and sending the birdie soaring into our roof gutters. So we got accustomed to dragging out a ladder, propping it up against the edge of the roof where the birdie went over and retrieving the birdie. But every so often, the birdie landed a bit further onto the roof, which made it necessary for us to climb onto the roof to find it. As it turned out, crawling onto the roof was not so difficult. 

Back to that summer — by the time I had finished recording, my sister had gotten tired of tap dancing incessantly on her square wooden plank in our front yard. So I invited her to join me on the roof, and the minute she got on, both of our eyes lit up; it was the childhood treehouse that we never had, a high place far from our parents’ eyes where we could talk, work and decorate to our liking. 

Nevertheless, the roof wasn’t perfect at the beginning: The roof tiles were burning hot from the direct sunlight, we were fully exposed to the obnoxious hair-throwing wind and the tiles weren’t the comfiest place to take a nap. So we went up and down the ladder bringing pillows, snacks, books, board games, umbrellas and even a small table until the roof resembled an outdoor pillow fort. But, we did all these “renovations” right above our mother’s head — literally — and within an hour, she got completely fed up and yelled: “You’re going to make a hole in the roof!” We tried stealth — yet even with our best efforts at tiptoeing around the roof, every step earned an angry “xiao mei” or “xiao jie” from our mom.

My dad, however, was more concerned about the safety of our heads than his own. While we were fooling around on the roof, he threw two bike helmets up and insisted we wear them, or else: “xia lai ba” (get down in Mandarin).

Now tasked with dancing as quietly and safely as we could, my sister and I, with our helmets on, put on a whole show on every corner of the roof. We pranced around to Adele, Billie Eilish and Halsey without worry that any of our neighbors passing by would take notice of us — that is, until our new neighbor hopped out of his moving van and stared us straight in the eye. He was one year younger than me, and with his first impression of me being that my idea of fun was dancing on rooftops wearing a bike helmet, there’s no hope of redemption. Farewell to my chances of being a chill, respectable upperclassman.

No matter the shameful first impressions that we made, the parent grievances we received and the beet red sun burns we gained, my sister and I would do it all over again. Those hours spent on our rooftop treehouse remain among my favorite summer memories, so take this as a sign to try it out yourself! (For legal purposes, don’t try this at home. Try it ON your home.)

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