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  • Writer's pictureAndrea Marston

3 Day Greyhound Drive

Prompt: Your favorite childhood vacation

My life at 9 was stressful. My immigrant parents struggled to keep me in the fancy private school they sent me to, where I was bullied every day by rich white kids, and keep my toddler brother from stumbling into his daily accidents. My parents were tired, frustrated, and fought all the time and I was tasked with distracting my hyperactive brother. I remember sitting in a coat closet with him telling him a story while my Mom threw plates at my Dad in the kitchen. The next day I would go to school and be bullied for being poor and fat by kids I just never felt comfortable with. I was an anxious kid and I totally understand why when I think about it now.

Escaping my reality seemed impossible. And then one day my Uncle in San Francisco was getting married and we had to get there from Winnipeg. My Dad worked as a retail manager and my Mom stayed at home with us. Money was always tight back then, so the only way we could make that trip was to take the Greyhound Bus from Winnipeg to San Francisco. My Mom, Dad, 4-year old brother and I took a three-day road trip to San Francisco. It was the best thing that had ever happened in my life up until then. My parents acted as a team and did not fight the whole way there… according to my memories. My Mom got us all our favourite snacks and my Dad made up elaborate stories about all the places we passed through. We saw fields, cows, horses, and even buffalo in Yellowstone National Park. The bus was filled with so many different kinds of people from different walks of life, all going somewhere - they were like us and their life was in transit. I heard different accents and got a glimpse of what music people listened to and the fashion people wore outside of Winnipeg in the early ‘90s.

The four of us. A traveling team. We went from prairie to mountains to the ocean and that was the first time I had a glimpse of how big the world was compared to the world I often felt trapped by. I met family members that I had never met. I saw the ocean for the first time and as the waves lapped over my little painted toes I fell in love immediately. We went to Disneyland and I felt RICH for the first time. I remember colour coming into my world at this time. Like part of the picture was filling out in front of my eyes.

This was my first and favourite family trip because it opened up a world that I did not know existed beyond my own circumstances. It established a sense of hope about what my life could be and all the things I could see and experience along the way. It was also the first time I remember feeling like my family was a team. My team. And no matter what happened at school or anywhere else in life, I had them to come back home to.

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